Veteran speaks out after carjacking, thieves crash stolen Jeep into Chicago building | EXCLUSIVE

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Saturday, June 15, 2024
Veteran speaks out after his stolen Jeep crashes into Chicago building
Vietnam veteran Lewis Smith spoke out Friday after he was an armed carjacking victim and the thieves crashed his Jeep into a building in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A veteran is speaking out Friday after he was carjacked Thursday and the suspected thieves later crashed his vehicle into a building in Chicago.

The disabled Vietnam veteran from the south suburbs, Lewis Smith, is a concealed-carry license holder, but he did not have his gun with him when three offenders took his vehicle.

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Hours after the Jeep was stolen, the suspected thieves crashed it into a building on the city's Northwest Side and then made a run for it. The scene was unbelievable, but also heartbreaking to Smith.

READ MORE | SUV stolen from 76-year-old man crashes into building in Noble Square, Chicago police say

"I did tear up. I became very emotional about that because I felt like, I feel for these guys," Smith said.

The 76-year-old veteran survived the Tet Offensive in 1968. He said Thursday morning, near 92nd and Langley, he was approached by three young men who rode up on rental scooters, and at least one of them was armed.

"He asked me for my wallet. I gave him my wallet," Smith said. "He said, 'Where's your keys? Where's your keys?'"

Smith was uninjured as the thieves drove off in his 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has disabled veteran license plates. Four hours later they apparently losing control and plowed into an empty first-floor office in a building near Ashland and Cortez in Chicago's Noble Square.

Smith, who for years drove a CTA bus, said he's a concealed-carry license holder, but for some reason he didn't have his gun, which was the same Glock 17 the offender had.

"And I've thought about that many a times. Maybe it would've been a different end result if I had my Glock, and he had his," Smith said.

I became very emotional about that because I felt like, I feel for these guys.
Lewis Smith, carjacking victim

Smith was 19 when he went to Vietnam, around the same age, he estimates, as his carjackers. He has a message for them.

"The military taught me to appreciate life," Smith said. "Appreciate life. Enjoy life. Make something of yourself."

Smith, who receives counseling for PTSD suffered in the war, said his vehicle is a total loss, but he's just happy to be unhurt.