Prosecutors: Thomas Santiago drove SUV over curb, grassy area to run over Antonio Mendez

Thomas Santiago / Photo from Chicago Police
Thomas Santiago / Photo from Chicago Police

Chicago Sun-Times

A motorist who Cook County prosecutors said intentionally ran over and killed a man with his SUV over the weekend was ordered held in lieu of $900,000 bond Wednesday.

Although prosecutors and police didn’t give a motive for Saturday morning’s incident in McKinley Park, police did say the victim — Antonio Mendez — was a gang member.

Initially, 20-year-old Thomas Santiago swerved his white SUV multiple times in an apparent effort to strike a Chevrolet Cavalier in which Mendez was a passenger as both vehicles traveled on Archer Avenue, Assistant State’s Attorney Glen Runk said.

Eventually the driver of the Cavalier pulled off the road and stopped near 1841 West 33rd Pl., Runk said.

Mendez, who was in the back seat, and his two friends then got out of the car, Runk said.

But Santiago accelerated toward the Cavalier, drove his SUV over the curb, sidewalk and grassy area before ramming into Mendez, Runk said.

Mendez, 24, of the 2200 block of West 35th Place, died at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County less than a half hour later, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Santiago, of the 1100 block of West 32nd Street, allegedly fled and was later seen driving off the Stevenson Expressway so he could check the SUV for front-end damage.

He then got back in the car and stated that he had hit someone, Runk said.

Santiago, whose nickname “Scrappy,” was allegedly identified by witnesses as the driver who struck Mendez.

The defendant, a father of three, is a forklift operator at UPS, according to defense attorney Tod Urban.

He has crown tattoos with the number “33” on both of his lower legs, according to a police report.

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