Four men were planning to rip off a pizza delivery guy of some cash instead found themselves face to face with a local state senator who formerly played linebacker for several NFL teams, officials said.
Police officers in Harvey, Georgia worked with law enforcement officials in Fulton County, Ga. along with the FBI, in providing information related to the attempted mugging of state Senator Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, and that helped in the investigation of a missing man who was later found dead in Georgia.
Harris was a star football player at Thornton High School who later went on to play for the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings. Aside from serving in the Illinois Senate, Harris owns Beggars Pizza franchises in Orland Park and Harvey.
On September 6th, he was working at the restaurant at 369 E. 147th St. in Harvey when one call came in for a pizza delivery. Because it was closing time, Harris decided to make the delivery himself, sparing the other delivery drivers of one rough night.
Harris, who declined to comment Thursday about the incident, arrived at the house in the 15800 block of Paulina Avenue, he first encountered one man sitting on the porch.
Suddenly, according to Harvey police spokesman Sean Howard, three other men came charging out of the bushes and attacked Harris. Howard said Harris was struck by the men, who also tried putting him in a choke-hold.
That proved to be a much harder task than planned, since Harris stands at 6-foot-3 and 250 lbs, and was easily able to fight them off. Howard said the men did manage to get the money in Harris’ wallet, along with the pizza, before they fled in a Chevrolet Tahoe.
Harris was shaken up by the attack, but Howard said the senator was able to regain his senses, get in his car and follow the Tahoe until its occupants abandoned the vehicle at a lumberyard in South Holland.
At that time, Harris used his cellphone to report the incident to Harvey police. The police converged in on the lumberyard where they discovered blood in the vehicle, which was registered to Lester “Roy” Jones, a man who had been reported missing in Georgia.
Forensic testing done by the Illinois State Police revealed the blood was from Jones, who later turned up dead.
Howard said Harvey police provided their information to Georgia law enforcement officials, and also provided a tip that the men had gotten on a bus leaving Chicago for Atlanta. As a result of this tip, Malik Mayer and a juvenile were taken into custody right as they arrived in Georgia. Mayer now faces charges of: murder kidnapping, aggravated assault, theft, and two counts of financial transaction card fraud, based on the reports.
A third man, Lawrence Hines, was arrested on September 15th after he checked himself into a mental hospital in Atlanta. Officials there became suspicious of his conduct and notified the police of his whereabouts. Murder charges were filed against Hines, although Fulton County Sheriff’s police said more charges could be sought. FBI officials in Atlanta also said Hines is wanted for a 2015 incident in Burlington, Iowa.
Charges are pending against a fourth suspect, officials said. Howard said the man is a Gary, Indiana, resident and Harvey authorities are working together with Indiana authorities to have him returned to Cook County.
“We haven’t filed charges yet, but we’re going to,” he said.
Howard, who also serves as a spokesman for Harris, said the senator was pleased police in Harvey were able to provide worthwhile information to another law enforcement agency’s investigation of a murder.
Harris is also pleased his usual pizza delivery people didn’t have to deal with such a robbery attempt. Harris, “feels he was better capable of handling this incident than they would have been,” Howard said. “They were expecting a scrawny 5-foot-9 guy, and got Harris instead.”