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Man who allegedly stabbed doctor at Streeterville hotel recently released from jail

Monday, November 19, 2012

A 56-year-old man is charged with attempted murder in connection with a weekend stabbing inside a Streeterville hotel.

According to authorities, officers captured the suspect, Jimmy Harris, near Michigan and Delaware after he allegedly stabbed two people inside the Westin Hotel.

Prosecutors say Harris was out on parole for less than a week when he allegedly stabbed suburban oncologist Dr. Mir Jafar Shah in the neck and face inside the bathroom of The Grilll restaurant in the hotel Saturday night. As Dr. Shah screamed for help, Harris punched him in the face, according to prosecutors. Shah defended himself and broke free.

A second man, a hotel bartender, reportedly tried to help and ended up getting slashed.

Harris was caught across the street at the Cheesecake Factory. A bloody knife was recovered.

Family members say Dr. Shah and some relatives had come downtown for the lights festival and dinner.

Police said there was no apparent motive for the stabbing.

The incident happened as hundreds of thousands of people were in the area for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which had wrapped up just a short time before the stabbing.

Harris faces the following felony charges: 1 count of attempted first-degree murder, 2 counts of aggravated battery/great bodily harm and 1 count of aggravated unlawful restraint in the stabbing attack.

He appeared in bond court Monday and was held without bail.

Prosecutors say Harris was on a parole after serving half of a sentence for the 2007 slashing of a grocery store clerk. In all, Harris has nine felony convictions on his record. Harris was released a few days ago. He gave police a homeless shelter as his address.

The arrest came as police also were searching for the people who robbed a clothing store Sunday night not far away.

Sunday night, approximately one block away from the hotel, an officer responded to an American Apparel that was being robbed. The suspect tried to run down the officer when he fled. The officer fired shots at the car, but the suspect got away.

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson said officers would not be stepping up patrols in the area, despite the fact there were two incidents over the weekend. Police say there are enough patrols in the Streeterville and Gold Coast areas.

Chicago's police superintendent and the mayor say crime is dropping.

"This is something that happened, it's is something we addressed and unfortunately these things happen in a large city like Chicago," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. "We are experiencing a 30-year low in crime in this area."

"And I, in fact, think the city is making every day, whether we're making some progress, it's not a linear line, it's making progress in an area throughout the city," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In both incidents, Chicago police say they responded quickly, showing there is a strong police presence in area.

"I definitely think the police do a great job. I think they have done a great job -- especially in this area-- of keeping it pretty safe. I'd think it might be a coincidence that, in the past couple of days, things have happened in the area," said area resident Emily Smith.

"I do not have that many concerns. I just moved here about a year ago. I never have a problem. I'm not afraid. With these two incidents, I suppose it is holiday time, and people are desperate," said Diana Foster, also an area resident.

Some business owners said off-camera they were more concerned. They said the area needs more police patrols, and there concern was amplified because of the holiday shopping season.

Dr. Shah's son-in-law, Mahin M. Samadani, issued a statement saying, "as someone who visits downtown Chicago often, and I would think for anyone who spends time there, I am very concerned about how a career criminal with a perfect track record for mayhem and destruction was allowed to roam the streets hunting for his innocent prey. Very scary."

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