Weather Updates

National Guardsman thwarts Red Line robbery; 3 teens arrested

Illinois National Guard Specialist Paville N. SimpsChicago explains how he thwarted robbery attempt by three juveniles Saturday January 7 2012

Illinois National Guard Specialist Paville N. Simpson of Chicago explains how he thwarted a robbery attempt by three juveniles Saturday January 7, 2012 at the North/Clybourn red line station. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

storyidforme: 23886908
tmspicid: 8802656
fileheaderid: 3973811
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: February 10, 2012 8:57AM

Three teens who attempted to rob a judo instructor with a replica gun at a CTA station got more than they bargained for, police say.

It wasn’t the judo teacher who taught them a lesson, authorities say, but an Army National Guardsman armed with a real gun.

Spc. Paville Simpson, 21, was hailed a hero Sunday, hours after he cuffed two of the teens and held the third until police arrived Saturday night at the North and Clybourne Red Line station.

“I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” the military police officer who serves with the Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade said, “I didn’t have time to think — my training just kicked in.”

Simpson was on his way to his day job as a security guard around 6:30 p.m. and was wearing his World Security Agency uniform when the 28-year-old victim approached him and described the three attackers who’d just unsuccessfully tried to snatch his iPhone at gunpoint, Simpson and the victim both said.

Within seconds, Simpson had chased down and cuffed two 16-year-old boys to each other, he said. Then he squared off against a 17-year-old who pulled out what “looked like a real .22 pistol,” he said.

As Simpson grabbed his own gun, the 17-year-old — identified in court Sunday by prosecutors as Donte Jackson — shouted “please don’t shoot, it’s not real!” Simpson said. The 17-year-old pulled the trigger on the fake gun, revealing a flame, he said. “It was a lighter, but I told him, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, I could have shot you.’”

Meanwhile the two 16-year-olds stood motionless, he said. “I think they were in awe.”

Chicago Police arrived in “five or six squad cars” within a couple of minutes and completed the arrests, he said. “It’s good to know that they’re out there to help a soldier,” he added.

Jackson, of the 4700 block of South Wabash, was charged with felony attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault and was held on bail of $100,000 during a short hearing at the Cook County Criminal Court Sunday. He was wanted on a warrant for an earlier robbery, police said. The 16-year-olds were charged as juveniles.

Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, said, “One of the values that the Army and the Illinois National Guard instills in our soldiers is personal courage. Spc. Simpson certainly displayed that courage in helping a fellow Chicago citizen last night.

“We are proud to have such courageous men and women in our ranks.”

Simpson, a graduate of Lincoln Park High School and a part-time student at Phoenix University, said the incident showed the value of concealed carry laws in place in other states, pointing out that he wouldn’t have been entitled to carry his weapon in Illinois if he hadn’t been on his way to work.

The victim, who had been teaching judo to disabled veterans minutes before he was targeted, described Simpson as “My hero.”

“When I saw him come down the stairs with all three of the robbers, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.