Chicago Retailer Catches Robbery Suspect in Air Ducts

Jan. 29, 2007
Quick thinking employees, CCTV, fast police response and a tight air duct stop robbery

Two workers at a South Side electronic games store kept their cool and used their smarts to help police arrest an alleged armed robber who tried to escape -- through an air duct.

"Give me the money. Give me the money," EB Games employee Latrice Powell recalled Antuan Blackman, 23, telling her.

Moments earlier, around 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Blackman -- displaying a blue, steel handgun -- had forced Powell, 30, and a female co-worker back into the store at 6700 S. Stony Island, police said.

The two had been locking up for the night when Blackman showed up, said he didn't intend to hurt them and demanded money, police said.

Powell said she handed the gunman hundreds of dollars before he asked to see Sony PlayStation 3s. After grabbing two of the devices, he wanted PlayStation games, too.

But then he noticed a security camera and asked, "Am I being recorded?"

"Yes you are," Powell replied.


The gunman then wanted to find the recording device so he could destroy it, said Powell.

Her co-worker went with him to a back storage room while Powell claimed to be looking for the system's key.

Seizing the opportunity to flee, Powell motioned her co-worker out of the storage room as the gunman tried to disable the system by beating it with a metal object.

The women left the store, locked him inside and ran in separate directions looking for help. Police in the area saw what was going on, got the store key from Powell and went in to arrest Blackman, who was trying to climb onto the roof through an air duct.

Grand Crossing District officers found $559 cash in his pants and $54 worth of coins in his sweatshirt, police said.

Blackman, of the 6900 block of South Cornell Avenue, was being held at Cook County Jail Sunday night after a judge set his bail at $375,000. Charged with armed robbery, he has another court appearance Friday.