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Retired Chicago homicide cop nabs car thief, as owner who gave chase is badly hurt

Gerald Hamiltretired Chicago homicide detective held alleged car thief until police arrived.

Gerald Hamilton, a retired Chicago homicide detective, held the alleged car thief until police arrived.

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Updated: June 12, 2014 7:09AM

A man was critically injured trying to chase down a teenage boy who police say stole his car Saturday morning in Hyde Park, and a retired Chicago homicide detective and his son went after and caught the suspected car thief.

“I told myself, ‘I’m retired, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this kid get away,” said Gerald Hamilton, the retired homicide detective.

“So I became unretired for a few minutes.”

It all happened around 11 a.m. in the 5100 block of South Lake Park Avenue.

Police say a 17-year-old saw a late-model BMW left running and unattended at a gas station, hopped in and sped off.

The car’s 34-year-old owner gave chase, Officer Ana Pacheco said, hanging from the driver’s side and pulling on the steering wheel as the teen drove off.

The car collided with a Mercedes-Benz, sending the owner flying. He landed underneath another car, and the BMW crashed into an LA Fitness club at 5235 S. Harper Ave.

Hamilton and his 28-year-old son saw what happened.

“It was terrible,” the retired detective said. “When the BMW collided with the Benz, it threw the owner loose. Unfortunately, nobody was looking for a grown man flying through traffic, and one car couldn’t stop. That’s how the car came to a resting place and on top of the man.”

Hamilton said it took “at least 10 people” to lift the vehicle and get the man out from under it.

“The crews from the 911 ambulance literally had to lift the car off of him,” Hamilton said. “You could just see his shoes and legs hanging out underneath the car.”

When he saw the car thief jump out and start running, Hamilton said he and his 28-year-old son ran after him, tackled him and held him in a nearby parking lot until police arrived.

Pacheco said the teenager was being held and was expected to face charges.

The BMW’s owner was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition, Pacheco said.

Hamilton said he was surprised the man survived.

“The main thing to take away from this — and you see it all the time — is take that extra second and remove your keys from your car,” he said. “It was terrible. So many people saw this happen.”

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