LOGAN SQUARE — The University of Chicago student who was reportedly suffering from mental health issues when he was shot by campus police last year has now been reported missing.
In an alert issued Sunday, Chicago Police said 23-year-old Charles Thomas was last seen Thursday leaving his home in the 3800 block of North Springfield Avenue.
But, according to Thomas’ friend and roommate Elijah Wolter, Thomas actually lives in the 2800 block of North Springfield Avenue in Logan Square. And, according to a separate flyer circulating on social media, Thomas, who goes by Charles or Soji, was last seen near Unanimous Boxing Gym, 2764 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square.
Asked about the discrepancies, a Chicago Police spokeswomen said the alert contained the most up-to-date information provided by detectives.
Thomas was shot in the shoulder by a University of Chicago police officer last year, according to Wolter and other friends.
He was later charged with eight felonies after the shooting: three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and five counts of property damage, according to reports.
The University of Chicago police confirmed with the Chicago Police Department that Thomas was the same person injured in the high-profile shooting by a university cop last year.
“The University community shares in the concern over this incident, and we hope for Mr. Thomas’ safe return,” a university spokesperson said in a statement.
Thomas, a student living on campus at the time of the shooting, was having a psychiatric episode when he charged at the officers with a metal pipe, prompting one of the officers to shoot, according to reports.
The shooting sparked protests at the school with outraged students saying officers could’ve restrained Thomas without shooting him.
“This is a person in the midst of crisis, like a person who is having a heart attack, and our police officers … were so afraid of this scary kid that they had to try to kill him,” student Alex Peltz told the Tribune.
Thomas, now missing since last Thursday, is at risk given his mental health struggles and because he doesn’t have his medication with him, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said in a Facebook post.
“His mother has filed a missing persons report already, flyers are up in the neighborhood, and both the police and a private investigator are looking for him,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Thomas’ mother, Kathy, said Thomas spoke to his father on the phone the day before he went missing and was in a “very good mood,” talking about his desire to travel and to pursue martial arts.
Kathy Thomas, who lives in Riverside, Calif., said her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after the shooting. She said she fears he’s currently going through a manic episode because he had been working out a lot before he went missing, both at Unanimous Boxing Gym and in his apartment.
“If he had energy from being manic, he was probably managing it by working out,” she said. “That’s the problem with mania. You get all of this energy, you feel fantastic. … but eventually you’re not sleeping and it starts to play with your decision-making skills.”
Over the last several months, Kathy Thomas said her son has been spending a lot of time cooking, reading and writing. She said the electronic monitoring has made it hard for him to find a job.
“He was sort of discouraged,” she said.
Kathy Thomas said she wants the neighborhood to know her son isn’t dangerous, and that he’s likely “really up” from the manic episode.
“I’m worried sick. I just want to find him. I want to know he’s OK,” she said.
Police describe Thomas as an Asian-American, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Thomas was carrying a light brown burlap backpack and may not have his glasses with him, according the flyer, which was shared by Ramirez-Rosa.
It’s unclear what happened in the days leading up Thomas’ disappearance. Wolter deferred that question to Thomas’ attorney Jeffrey Urdangen.
Urdangen, who works for Northwestern University’s Center for Criminal Defense, wouldn’t answer questions, saying, “I’m not making any comments until we have more information.”
Thomas’ missing person flyer was shared widely on social media Monday by neighbors and friends of Thomas.
Anyone with information about Thomas’ whereabouts is urged to call detectives at 312-744-8266.
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