Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Three Chicago thugs decided to mug a veteran and his girlfriend. After “searching” the woman, they stabbed the veteran in the shoulder. However, it didn’t take long for them to realize just how bad of an idea it was.

Neil McCarthy, 27, and Carisa Lerner, 26, traveled from Minnesota to Chicago for a quick weekend getaway. The couple was visiting Chicago’s lakefront for the first time and enjoying a great evening when they saw three men approaching. “They came over, kind of jovially, and said, ‘Hey, how’s it going? Do you want to give me some money,’” McCarthy said. “To which we responded, ‘Not ideally.’”

At that moment, one of the men pulled out a knife and demanded McCarthy’s wallet and phone. McCarthy thought he had satisfied the muggers after handing over what they wanted, but one of the men started to “search” Lerner, which McCarthy wasn’t about to let happen. “While the guy was going through my stuff I looked around and another guy was manhandling my girlfriend — that’s when I lost it,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy is a London native who attends the University of Minnesota as a graduate student of security technologies. Previously, he was a Senior Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force and served in Afghanistan. Although the veteran was able to get the man off of his girlfriend, he was stabbed in the shoulder as he put the knife-wielding man into a headlock. “I knew I’d been stabbed. It didn’t hurt. It felt like a punch,” he said.

Ignoring his wounds, McCarthy gained control of the situation by grabbing the knife by its blade. “He reached back and stabs,” McCarthy said. “The other two guys are punching me in the head, and I manage to get the knife by grabbing the blade, which is not a great move when you’re being stabbed. But at that point, I had the knife. I was in control, basically. I just started defending myself with a knife.”

After McCarthy managed to stab one of the muggers, they showed their true colors and ran like cowards, but it wouldn’t be the last they saw of the veteran. Police arrived moments later and medical staff tended to McCarthy’s wound. “A guy cycling past had called the police and when they arrived I was the one holding the bloody dripping knife, so I just put my hands up,” he said.

After getting patched up by the medics, McCarthy used the Find My iPhone app to track his phone, which was only 100ft away. It led him straight to one of the attackers. McCarthy sprinted after the man and caught him, then dragged him back to the police. “He literally jumped on him, dragged him up to the pathway, put his arms around his back, then the cops drive up really fast, cuff him, and put him in,” Lerner said.

Noe Mondragon and Luis Salgado-Camargo were arrested and charged in the robbery. (Photo Credit: Chicago Police Department)
Noe Mondragon, 22, and Luis Salgado-Camargo, 18, both of Chicago, have been identified as two of the three people who robbed the couple. Mondragon was charged with aggravated battery/use of a deadly weapon and armed robbery. Salgado-Camargo was charged with two felony counts of armed robbery, according to Chicago Police.

McCarthy says he doesn’t like stabbers, but he still likes Chicago. A measly stab wound and lost passport won’t stop the couple from visiting again. “It’s exciting isn’t it, a little adventure. I know, that’s weird,” McCarthy said. “It hasn’t ruined the city for me, I like Chicago. I just like the people here, the pizza is amazing, it’s just a nice place.”

It’s not often that stories like this have a happy ending, but it’s awesome when they do since everyone loves a good story about justice being served. This time around, three punks picked the wrong victim, and it cost them dearly. Not only was McCarthy unafraid to fight back to protect the woman he loves, but he had the training to be able to do so.

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