A Chicago pub owner is sharing his story after being robbed at gunpoint by four masked men in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood.
“I can’t imagine somebody going through what I went through, it was absolutely insane,” said Eric Johnson, owner of Web Pub Bucktown.
Johnson told NBC 5 that his business has been broken into three times within the past 15 days, and over the weekend, he was held at gunpoint right in front of his establishment.
“I literally thought I was going to die in that moment,” he said.
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He said he still can’t believe what happened to him and his operations manager, Rachel, last Sunday morning.
“I can’t even explain how I’m feeling,” he said. “Every time I talk about it I start crying, and I’m trying not to cry right now.”
Surveillance video shared with NBC 5 shows Rachel standing in front of the pub near Webster and Seeley avenues at around 12:30 a.m. Johnson is sitting out of view behind the construction sign when a car pulls up. That’s when four masked men jumped out with guns.
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“There are no words,” he said. “I thought it was fake at first. I was like, this can’t be happening to me, no way. There’s no way this is happening in my neighborhood.”
With guns pointed at their heads, Johnson said the armed robbers patted he and Rachel down. Johnson said the entire ordeal took less than 20 seconds.
“It happened so fast, they said get up,” he said. “So I hold my hands up, I said, Rachel, hold your hands up, take everything in my pocket.”
Johnson said the suspects got away with one cellphone then sped off.
“I had a full packed bar Saturday night,” he said. “If one person came out, one of those triggers could have went off on either of our heads.”
Chicago police said this was one of nine armed robberies that happened early Sunday morning in a span of an hour on the city’s North and Northwest sides. Below are the incidents that were reported:
2000 block of West Webster Avenue – 12:27 a.m.
1200 block of North Damen Avenue – 12:30 a.m.
2700 block of North Milwaukee Avenue – 1 a.m.
2200 block of West Webster Avenue – 1:03 a.m.
2600 block of North Kedzie Avenue – 1:05 a.m.
2900 block of West Armitage Avenue – 1:08 a.m.
3000 block of North Kimball Avenue – 1:15 a.m.
3200 block of North Elston Avenue – 1:26 a.m.
3100 block of North California Avenue – 1:30 a.m.
“All I’m trying to do is have a small pub in Bucktown, and I can’t even do that without being completely violated,” he said.
Johnson bought the pub four years ago and said with the rampant crime, he’s not sure how much more he could take.
“It takes a community to make changes,” he said. “We have to keep talking about it. We have to keep bringing awareness to the situation.”
Johnson attended a community policing meeting where he voiced his concerns and received support from the alderman and police. Now, he’s asking neighbors to rally around each other and to be extra vigilant.
Area Five detectives are investigating the robbery.