PEORIA: Man arrested in hijacking at mall

Leslie Fark

The man police arrested Monday night for allegedly carjacking a woman outside Northwoods Mall is expected to appear in court today to be formally charged.

William H. Ransom, 52, of 1611 Jefferson Ave. was booked into the Peoria County Jail on charges of aggravated vehicle hijacking, aggravated robbery and aggravated battery with bodily harm. He remained held there Tuesday night on a parole hold.

About 8:30 p.m. Monday, Ransom allegedly approached a 50-year-old woman as she walked to her sport utility vehicle parked outside Macy’s and demanded her keys.

A scuffle ensued and Ransom tried to take her purse. When she refused to let go, he struck her several times in the face, police said.

Hearing the victim’s screams for help, several bystanders came to her aid. One of them was an off-duty Creve Coeur auxiliary police officer, whom Peoria and Creve Coeur police declined to identify Tuesday.

Ransom eventually took the woman’s keys, purse and SUV. During his escape he struck the auxiliary officer and rammed two parked vehicles. Knocked to the ground, the officer, uninjured, retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and fired twice at the SUV as it sped north out of the lower-level parking lot.

Bullets struck the SUV’s windshield and passenger side paneling. No injuries were reported.

The victim was taken to an area hospital, treated for injuries to her face and released.

Police found the vehicle abandoned at Daytona Drive and University Street.

Apparently, Ransom boarded a bus near where he ditched the SUV and got a ride Downtown to the CityLink transfer center. Waiting for him was off-duty Peoria police Lt. Phil Benne, who was working security and heard the commotion on the carjacking over his police radio.

Being familiar with bus schedules and their routes, Benne felt the carjacker may have gotten on a bus in an attempt to evade police.

Benne watched for the carjacking suspect as passengers departed the #1 University bus, and when he saw a person, later identified as Ransom, matching the description, he took him into custody, police said.

Leslie Fark can be reached at (309) 686-3188 or lfark@pjstar.com.