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(Above) A police officer wearing a face mask can be seen in an apartment on the 18th floor of rental units above Hotel Palomar. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

10-May-20 – Two explosions that jolted a River North neighborhood last month were large firecrackers tossed from an 18th floor apartment at State & Illinois, and Chicago police now say they found narcotics in the apartment but due to the pandemic could not make any arrests.

The explosions were reported by multiple people, as far as six blocks away, at about 12:36 a.m. on April 20. One 911 caller described an explosion as sounding like a stun grenade.

As police cars cruised through the area, a man outside Hotel Palomar approached officers and, according to police, claimed to be a federal agent. He told officers he saw people throw firecrackers off a balcony of a rental unit above the hotel.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Left) Hotel and residential building at 505 North State Street.

The west-facing unit has a distinctive display of Christmas lights in a window, which helped the doorman at 505 North State Street direct police to Unit 1807. When they got to the unit, officers found numerous people inside – along with an open backpack that allegedly contained Ziploc bags of suspected cannabis, a bag containing suspected Xanax, and $3,165 in cash.

The owner of the backpack, according to police, was a 23-year-old, 320-pound Hispanic man. When officers asked him about the drugs, he said, “I don’t know how it got there.”

Officers took the backpack, suspected Xanax, and money but returned the cannabis. Because testing labs were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, police say they could not arrest the man but noted in their report that charges could be pursued at a later date.