The plan was simple: Order a pizza, rob whoever showed up to deliver the pie.
But the caper did not go as the four men expected.
That was because Napoleon Harris III, arrived with the pizza in hand. Harris is a man of many hats. Not only has he served as an Illinois state senator since 2013, he is the owner of two Beggars Pizza franchises. One of which, in Harvey, Ill., received a call just before closing time on Sept. 6.
Harris is also 6 feet 3 inches tall, and weighs 250 pounds. He was a professional linebacker for several NFL teams, including the Oakland Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings. And he would soon help authorities find suspects in a murder case.
On the Tuesday night in question, the 37-year-old ex-footballer told the normal delivery person to head home, deciding to handle any late-night pies himself. A call came, the Daily Southtown reported, to the 15800 block of Paulina Avenue. What Harris did not know was that the house was vacant.
When he arrived, a man on the porch greeted him. Three more men burst forth from the surrounding hedges, according to Sean Howard, a representative for Harvey police, according to the Daily Southtown.
“They were expecting a scrawny 5-foot-9 guy, and got Harris instead,” he said. The narrative, to hear Howard tell it, unfolded like the recap of a superhero comic.
“They put a chokehold on the senator, but to no avail. They were really trying to choke him to death, and he was just too strong. He out-powered all four of them,” he said, according to CBS 2. “As they were all beating on him, one guy just went out of his way and really hit him hard, and Napoleon never moved.”
Howard added, “He just looked at him like Hulk Hogan, and from that the guys knew that we better get out of here, because we can’t get this guy down.”
The men stole Harris’s wallet as well as the pizza, according to Howard, and fled in a Chevy Tahoe. The senator pursued in his own car, following the Tahoe to a lumberyard. Harris called the Harvey police department, which found the men’s car but not the assailants.
But the police also found blood in the Chevy Tahoe. The truck was registered to a Georgia man named Lester Roy Jones. Analysis of the blood revealed it was Jones’s, too; the man’s body was found in an abandoned house in Union City, Ga., a few days later. Georgia police ruled the death a homicide. Three men had kidnapped and killed Jones after luring him with a dating app, police said, according to local Atlanta news Project Q.
Authorities tracked down Harris’s four attackers based on the descriptions the senator gave them, as well as the evidence linked to the death in Georgia. Howard told CBS 2 that two of the men had taken a Megabus from Chicago to Georgia. They were arrested on Sept. 15. Malik Mayer was charged with murder and financial transaction card fraud; a security camera caught a masked man trying to use Jones’s ATM card. The other person arrested was a juvenile, reports said.
Later in September, a third man, Lawrence Hines, was arrested on charges of murder in connection with the events in Georgia and Illinois. Hines checked himself into a Georgia mental institution, and when officers caught wind the suspect was at the facility they arrested him, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The fourth suspect in Harris’s mugging fits the description of a Gary, Ind., resident, according to Harvey police spokesman Howard. Charges have not yet been filed but are planned, he said.
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