A South Side woman activated an emergency-response signal in her car while at a currency exchange with an armed robber who was holding her and her husband at gunpoint, wanting them to cash a check for him.
"It was only a push away," the woman, 61, who spoke to the Tribune on Sunday under the condition of anonymity, said of the OnStar button.
After she pushed the OnStar button early Friday morning, Chicago police were requested by OnStar to respond to the 300 block of West 79th Street, where the currency exchange is located.
After police scuffled with the alleged robber, a 24-year-old parolee named Jerrell Arterberry, he was charged with home invasion with a firearm and aggravated battery of a police officer. A Cook County judge ordered Arterberry, of the 3200 block of West Fulton Boulevard, held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The ordeal started about 4:30 a.m. Friday, when the woman's husband, dressed in a bright red suit and alligator boots was returning to his home in the 7500 block of South Harvard from singing karaoke at a bar, his wife said. The robber, standing on the corner and smoking a cigarette, told him he looked like a pimp and demanded his money,
the woman said.
The man said that he didn't have any money and led the man into his house, where he woke up his wife.
"Babe, come here," the man said to his wife.
"I told him it's 4 in the morning and I'm sleeping," she said. "But he insisted I come downstairs."
The husband told his wife to go and get some money, she said. She then went to the back of the house to retrieve $700.
When she gave the money to the robber, he said: "This isn't enough," she said. She then wrote a separate check and told the robber that they could cash it at a nearby currency exchange.
The robber then led the husband and wife to the car at gunpoint and ordered them to drive him to get the check cashed, the woman said.
At the check-cashing business, the woman, her husband and the robber were standing outside when the woman said that she dropped the check on the floor of the car. She went inside the vehicle and tried to activate the OnStar system, but it didn't work because the keys were not in the ignition.
She came back out with the check, but then told the robber that she was cold, and he allowed her go back and get her coat, the woman said. Back in the car, she got the keys from her coat pocket, pressed the OnStar button, prompting an operator to ask her about the nature of the emergency.
"I slammed the door real quick and whispered for the woman to call the police," the woman said.
At the currency exchange, the robber tried to cash the check but was met by two police officers, who identified themselves as such, Assistant State's Attorney Michael Cheronis said. The robber hit one officer in the left eye with the handgun and threw the other officer to the ground before being arrested, Cheronis said.
Arterberry is on parole for a 2005 felony armed robbery conviction, in which he was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released from Robinson Correctional Center in August, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.