The intersection of Ohio and Dearborn streets in River North. Credit: Google Maps

RIVER NORTH — A driver accused in a River North road rage killing this week got out of his car with a knife in hand to confront the other driver before stabbing him in his neck, prosecutors said.

Alan Saenz Perez, 25, was charged with first-degree murder Friday. Authorities said he fatally stabbed Jeremy Walker, 36, Tuesday night after the two argued while driving down Dearborn Street.

Saenz Perez fled to Indiana before turning himself in Thursday, prosecutors said. Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered Saenz Perez held without bail at a Saturday hearing.

The attack occurred about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Ohio and Dearborn streets, prosecutors said.

Saenz Perez was driving on Dearborn with his wife and brother in the car while Walker was driving closely behind him, Assistant State’s Attorney Kathryn Morrissey said. Walker “yelled insults” at Saenz Perez and cut him off once the drivers reached the intersection, Morrissey said. Saenz Perez honked his horn while Walker remained in his car, Morrissey said. 

Saenz Perez grabbed a knife and got out of his car, while Walker got out of his car with nothing in his hands, Morrissey said. Witnesses in a nearby car saw Saenz Perez run up to Walker and try to stab him, starting a physical altercation, Morrissey said.

“The victim tried to hold off the offender, but the offender was able to break free and stab the victim in the neck,” Morrissey said. 

A witness who spoke to the Sun-Times said he saw Walker get out of a blue Kia and yell at the driver of a black car behind him, asking why the driver was honking at him.

Three people got out of the black car, and the two drivers began punching at each other before Walker pinned the driver of the black car to the ground, the witness told the Sun-Times. The man on the ground pulled out a knife and stabbed Walker before driving off, the witness said.

Walker bled “profusely” from the neck wound, while Saenz Perez drove away, Morrissey said. Walker was able to get back in his car and flag down police on Michigan Avenue, Morrissey said.

The witness who spoke to the Sun-Times said he and his brother tried to help treat Walker’s wound, but he drove away before they could retrieve towels.

Paramedics transported Walker to Northwestern Hospital, where he died, Morrissey said.

Saenz Perez fled to Indiana, but witnesses recorded his license plate number, and Saenz Perez turned himself in to police Thursday, Morrissey said. He also told police where to find the knife used in the killing, Morrissey said.

Arguing for no bail, Morrissey said Saenz Perez was a danger to public safety.

Saenz Perez “elevated a simple traffic dispute into a brutal murder of an unarmed person on a public street,” Morrissey said. “His actions demonstrate a clear disregard for the value of human life.”

Raed Shalabi, an attorney representing Saenz Perez, disputed the prosecutor’s account of events. Saenz Perez works full time and is the sole provider for his family, Shalabi said.

“There is a valid defense to this,” Shalabi said. 

McCarthy disagreed, saying Saenz Perez fled the scene of the stabbing and left the state. The confrontation between the two should have ended with Saenz Perez honking his horn, McCarthy said.

“That’s where this incident should have stopped. It did not. It proceeded,” McCarthy said. “It escalated by the defendant’s actions, and it escalated into the murder of an individual out on the street. And he left them there to suffer and eventually die.”

Saenz Perez is due back in court Tuesday.