David Coxhead

David Coxhead shows his injuries. (William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune / September 1, 2011)

Charges have been brought against four juveniles who police say mugged an IIT grad student Wednesday night near the 31st Street Beach as he rode his bicycle home from school on the lakefront path.

Dave Coxhead, 37, said he was riding home to Hyde Park from the Illinois Institute of Technology campus at about 9:30 p.m. when "a group of about seven kids" crossed over the path in front of his bicycle, forcing him to slow down.

"One of them took a rifle and swung it at me and hit me above the eye," Coxhead said in an interview. Knocked off his bike, Coxhead lay on the ground as the youths kicked him.

The rifle turned out to be a replica, and officers arrested four of the youths -- ages 10 to 16 -- after they took Coxhead's backpack and bicycle and fled across the 35th Street overpass. They have been charged as juveniles with aggravated battery and attempted robbery, police said.

Coxhead said he went to a nearby hospital to get 11 stitches for the cut on his right brow. He also suffered a concussion. Still, he was able to point out one of the youths to police after the arrest.

That youth, he said, was the one who yelled "Give me your (stuff)" as he was being kicked on the ground.

"All I had was a backpack full of textbooks," said Coxhead. "They took the backpack and my bike and ran off."

He said another group of youths came to his assistance and called the police. Coxhead then walked across the 35th Street overpass and found his backpack and bicycle on the other side. 

Meanwhile, officers on patrol nearby arrested the youths near 35th Street and Lake Park Avenue, police said. 

Coxhead was grateful to the police for their fast work. "It was very quick," he said of the arrest. "I didn't think I'd see any of that stuff again. ... It was really more valuable to me than it was to them."

The area where the attack happened isn't lit, Coxhead said. Even so, he has never had a problem there, even at night, in the years he has ridden his bicycle on the path. He will most likely drive to school and work from now on, he said.

"The worst part," the student of organizational psychology said, "is that the doctor says I'm not supposed to read for a few days."

Tribune editor David Elsner contributed.

alwang@tribune.com