Nuclear engineer pleads not guilty to DuPage carjacking

A downstate man faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of a carjacking last month in Woodridge.

Michael Buhrman, 31, of Coal City, formally pleaded not guilty Monday to the May 9 carjacking in a Kohl’s parking lot on the 1000 block of 75th Street.

Authorities said Buhrman was armed with a loaded .45 caliber handgun and wearing a “realistic” Halloween mask that resembled an elderly man when he approached the female victim near her 2000 Pontiac Grand Am about 10 p.m.

Woodridge officers stopped the car a short distance away and arrested Buhrman, who was still armed and wearing the mask, police said. Buhrman later told investigators the carjacking was a “stupid thing” to do and that he was only looking for a thrill, authorities said.

Buhrman, a reactor operator at the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant in downstate Morris, made a brief appearance Monday before DuPage Judge Kathryn Creswell.

Over prosecutors’ objection, the judge granted a request to allow Buhrman to travel to Nebraska for his 6-year-old son’s birthday party.

Defense attorney Richard Blass said Buhrman served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2005.

“He has absolutely no criminal history,” Blass said.

Prosecutors said Buhrman faces a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years — plus a 15-year add-on because a gun was involved — if convicted of the most serious charge.

Buhrman remains free on bond and is scheduled to return to court July 10. He has not been on site at Dresden since his arrest, said Dresden Site Communications Manager Robert Osgood, who attended Monday’s arraignment.

Authorities: Nuclear engineer sought ‘thrill’ in DuPage hijacking

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