A man with half a dozen robbery convictions on his record armed himself with a machete last week and went on a “crime spree, wreaking havoc” across the Northwest Side, Cook County prosecutors said in court Wednesday.
“To say that these are violent offense is actually an understatement — a machete is a viscous, dangerous weapon,” Judge Mary Marubio told Andre Gonzalez, who is charged with robbing four people since last Friday and suspected in seven other attacks.
Three of the victims identified Gonzalez, 35, in photo arrays, prosecutors said.
Detectives tracked him back to his East Side home after he allegedly used a credit card stolen in one of the attacks. Surveillance video from a liquor store captured Gonzalez using the card, and showed his car and license plate, prosecutors said.
Gonzalez was also identified by his distinctive tattoos, including one of his name on his face, police said. He was arrested Monday evening in the 10000 block of South Avenue C, seven blocks north of his home.
On June 3, Gonzalez confronted two women walking home in Irving Park after a dinner, prosecutors said. Gonzalez allegedly parked his silver sedan ahead of them in the 4000 block of West Eddy and, holding a machete, demanded one of the women’s purse.
“Give me your stuff before something happens,” Gonzalez said, according to Police Supt. David Brown, who spoke during a news conference Wednesday announcing the charges. As the woman with the purse “froze with fear,” her friend grabbed the purse and allegedly handed it to Gonzalez, who got back into his car and drove off.
The next day, Gonzalez confronted a woman walking home and demanded her purse in the 3000 block of North Haussen Court in Logan Square, police and prosecutors said. The woman, 31, tracked her stolen phone and discarded purse to a yard nearby, where she found that her credit cards had been stolen.
The next day, Gonzalez approached a man carrying a pizza in the 3700 block of North Troy Street and demanded his money, prosecutors said. The man turned around as Gonzalez repeated his demand, then threw the pizza at him, prosecutors said.
Gonzalez swung the machete at the man, 52, who fell to the ground, avoiding the blade, prosecutors said. Gonzalez allegedly stood over the man and demanded his wallet again. The man threw it toward some parked cars and ran to safety. Gonzalez grabbed the wallet, which had $1,500 in cash, and the pizza and ran off.
Gonzalez has been convicted six times in the past for robberies. His last arrest was in 2016. In those cases, Gonzalez either robbed people while armed with a gun or snatched women’s purses and punched or kicked them, prosecutors said.
Gonzalez lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and has four children, his defense attorney said. The attorney pointed out that the attacks happened quickly and at night, and that there was no video of the attacks. The attorney also pointed out that neither the machete or proceeds have been recovered by police.
Judge Marubio said there was enough evidence and risk to the community to deny bail for Gonzalez, who was already out on bail for a pending identity theft case at the Maywood courthouse.
“You have a history of using weapons and harming people in the course or robberies,” Marubio said. “These are random people in the community you preyed upon.”