On one recent day, Brian La Fountain, a Chicago Uber driver, was waiting at a stop light on the city's Near West Side when, suddenly, three young men armed with guns jumped in front of his SUV, he told NBC 5.
"I already knew what was happening and just said, listen Brian, do what they ask you to do," La Fountain said, recounting Thursday morning's incident.
Fearing the worst - he instantly complied. The trio sped off in his truck, and the Uber drive was left with nothing.
"It, it’s sad. It’s sad it had to happen," he said. "This is my only form of employment right now, it’s how I make my money."
Before approaching La Fountain's vehicle, the three suspects exited a black SUV, possibly a Kia Soul, according to Chicago police. A fourth person was said to have driven that vehicle away from the scene.
In a similar incident, less than a half hour earlier, a 29-year-old man was carjacked at approximately 1:44 a.m. in River North, authorities said. The victim was sitting inside his black 2020 Range Rover when four male suspects approached and displayed handguns. They demanded he exit the vehicle before taking off in the SUV, police said.
Then, late Thursday, a 35-year-old man was shot by an unknown suspect during an attempted carjacking in Gold Coast. The victim was standing on Chestnut Street at approximately 10:20 p.m. with his girlfriend when man approached and demanded the keys to his vehicle, according to law enforcement. The offender then fired a shot, striking the victim in the neck before fleeing in a waiting Honda SUV, police said.
The victim was listed in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
"People are getting shot, people are dying. I was lucky. I was lucky," said La Fountain, the victim of a carjacking early Thursday. "Nothing happened to me physically, right."
Police have yet to find La Fountain's SUV, but found his iPhone, which the suspects apparently tossed out on the Eisenhower Expressway.
Now, La Fountain is left with figuring out what's next and healing from the emotional trauma.
"Yesterday when I drove over there, and every time I was at a stop light, I was looking in my rearview mirror, getting nervous, this guy is pulling up, is it going to happen again? Someone has to do something," he said.
A total of 744 carjackings have been reported since the beginning of the year in Chicago, according to police data. In comparison, 416 carjackings were reported between Jan. 1 and June 13, 2020.