Police officer goes for coffee, nabs alleged carjacker
February 2, 2018

Photo courtesy Smith Park
Police Officer David Ramos (left), with Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward. Ramos, while off duty, recently caught an alleged carjacker.

Catching the morning news at home on television. Stopping for coffee before taking care of errands. These ordinary habits became intertwined with police work last month when an off-duty Chicago Police Department officer, outside a donut shop, spotted an alleged carjacker and kidnapper pictured on a television news report he had watched earlier that day.

“I thought ‘Oh my God, I think I just saw this guy on TV,’” Officer David Ramos told Gazette Chicago. Ramos works out of the Near North 18th Police District and is the president of the Smith Park Advisory Council. The park is at 2525 W. Grand Ave.

Ramos contacted his precinct and alerted officers about what he had just observed. Eighteenth District police officer Jerome Turbyville quickly arrived at the shop on the 300 block of West Chicago Avenue, and he and Ramos apprehended the suspect, Ramos said.

Police charged Leon Spektor, no known address, with aggravated kidnapping, a Class X felony, and are holding him without bail at the Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Spektor faces charges stemming from a November 12 incident in north suburban Wheeling, in which police allege he entered a vehicle parked outside a Walgreens store in that suburb while the driver was inside the store and drove off. A mother and her two children, an infant and a three year old, were inside the vehicle at the time, according to the Village of Wheeling Police Department. A store surveillance system caught the image of a male entering the vehicle and driving off, Wheeling police said.

The mother contacted Wheeling police later, letting them know she was in the 4700 block of West Belmont Avenue in Chicago. All three were unharmed, according to Wheeling Police, although the carjacker had taken a cell phone and cash.

For Ramos, a veteran police officer, the episode brought a convergence of observation skills that are so much a part of his job with his off-duty life. Officials with the Park Advisory Council at Smith said Ramos is well known and frequently seen in the community because of his participation in local organizations. Besides the Smith Park Advisory Council, he is involved with the Ogden School Local School Council.

As a police officer, Ramos routinely watches for particular articles of clothing and other “signifiers” that may indicate a person is suspicious. On that day, though, he noted even he had been caught by surprise when someone actively being sought by authorities appeared right in front of him. “It was simply a case of being in the right place at the right time,” he said.

For more information about Smith Park, call (312) 742-7534.

—Sheila Elliott