A Mugging on Lake Street

by Jonah Lehrer

On the afternoon of May 9, 2008, John Conroy was biking home from the Loop in Chicago, when he noticed a group of teenagers standing around a street corner. The next thing he remembers is lying face down in the street, his mouth leaking blood and his face littered with bits of asphalt. For the last year, Conroy has been investigating this random act of violence, as he tries to figure out why he was targeted. His answers are unsettling:

On the evening of the incident, one of the police officers who had been at the scene stopped by the hospital to see how I was doing, and I learned that someone had been arrested. Charges against him depended in part on the damage done to me. (If I had died, for instance, the charge would have been murder.) The news that someone would be held responsible was welcome. What I really looked forward to, however, was hearing a reason for the attack.

I’d have been happy enough with robbery, but nothing was taken. Perhaps theft was thwarted when my Samaritans pulled over? Perhaps it was an initial desire for a bicycle, the idea abandoned because the bike was of poor quality? But six kids, one bike? Who’d get to ride while the others fled on foot?

Via Kottke