Advertisement

Woman slain in pawnshop, allegedly by man she had sought protection from, as police knock on door

After an argument over money erupted at a South Side pawnshop, China Mitchell told the staff there that she was afraid of the man she was with, Cook County prosecutors said.

She ran into a bathroom as the workers called 911, but, prosecutors allege, Louie Foster followed her into the small room.

Police arrived on the scene and knocked on the door. Shortly after, they heard rounds of gunfire.

During a detention hearing Monday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, prosecutors described Mitchell’s frantic run to safety before she was shot and killed just as help arrived. Foster, 32, is charged with murder and being an armed habitual criminal in her shooting death.

Mitchell, 33, had a documented history of seeking help for alleged abuse at the hands of Foster, prosecutors said, making reports to police at least 10 times since 2019. Mitchell also previously took out an order of protection against Foster, court records show, in which she wrote that he threatened “to take my life.”

Cook County Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered him held in jail while he awaits trial, finding that he is a “danger to the community.”

In a proffer to the court, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers said Mitchell and Foster had dated and had a child together. On Jan. 15, the two went to a pawnshop in the 4800 block of South Ashland Avenue that they both regularly frequented.

At the pawnshop, staffed at the time by three employees and a manager, Foster accused Mitchell of owing him money, McCord Rodgers said. Mitchell told the employees that Foster threatened to beat her, and the store manager called 911, she said.

Trying to get away from Foster, Mitchell ran behind the counter and into the employee bathroom, McCord Rodgers said, where Foster followed her and locked the door behind him.

Moments later, prosecutors said, police arrived.

“Officers knocked on the restroom door and then heard multiple gunshots from inside,” McCord Rodgers said.

Foster then ran out of the store and dropped the gun, she said. He was detained about a block away, and officers took possession of the weapon.

Mitchell suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her arm and head, and officers recovered seven shell casings from the bathroom, prosecutors said.

Foster gave a statement to detectives that implicated himself, McCord Rodgers said. The events, except for the shooting in the bathroom, were captured on video.

Foster appeared in court next to his public defender, who argued against detention and said he has strong ties to the community.

“The community, the people who live with the defendant, his family members, would not be safe if he were to be placed on electronic monitoring,” McCord Rodgers said in response.

Foster was on probation for an aggravated driving under the influence conviction, according to court records. He also served four years in prison for aggravated battery.

Mitchell took out the order of protection against Foster in 2022, writing that he pinned her down, covered her mouth, and said, “I’m going to make sure to kill you this time.”

The order of protection lapsed and was extended a number of times over a seven-month period, but was vacated in May when neither party appeared for a court date, records show.

Foster is next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 7.

mabuckley@chicagotribune.com