A 75-yr-aged guy identified affectionately to Chicagoans as the “Walking Guy,” was in significant problem early Wednesday immediately after somebody doused him in flammable liquid and lit him on fire as he lay sleeping on Decreased Wabash Avenue overnight, in accordance to Chicago law enforcement.
Joseph Kromelis, who when instructed the Tribune he “roams as a way of everyday living,” experienced been resting or sleeping when a guy he did not know came up to him in the 400 block of North Reduce Wabash Avenue about 2:50 a.m., law enforcement reported.
The stranger doused him with lighter fluid and “then proceeded to ignite the victim before fleeing the scene,” in accordance to a statement from law enforcement.
A stability officer working at a nearby setting up in the Near North community observed the man engulfed in flames and rushed around with a hearth extinguisher, which he utilised to place the fireplace out, police explained.
Paramedics took him to Northwestern Memorial Healthcare facility, wherever the man was listed in important issue. Authorities reported he suffered burns “to virtually 50 % his body.” He was scheduled to be transferred to Stroger Prepare dinner County Hospital’s melt away device.
The attacker, who is required on suspicion of aggravated battery and arson, ran west and into the Blue Line CTA tunnel following setting Kromelis on fire.
The attacker, of an unknown race, had a slender create and was wearing a baseball hat, black pants and a black and white hooded “Hoodrich” sweatshirt and grey sandals, police reported in a group alert.
Police have not suggested a motive for the assault but explained they are examining protection footage.
In May possibly 2016, also along Reduced Wacker Travel, Kromelis was overwhelmed by an attacker wielding a baseball bat. He invested several weeks hospitalized and he rallied back.
That yr, Janice Riggs started a GoFundMe account for Kromelis. Arrived at on Wednesday, Riggs was appalled.
“I’m crushed. I imagine this is terrible thing to assault someone who is almost nothing a lot more than a close friend to every person all over Chicago,” Riggs mentioned. “He’s is a totally harmless particular person. To one him out for this kind of abuse is stunning and inhuman.”
Strangers, who for a long time regarded him by his distinctive long, wavy hair, mustache and activity coat as he wandered downtown streets, have been so moved by his plight in 2016 that they donated additional than $33,000 to the GoFundMe account. Properly-wishers expended yet another $5,500 on charity T-shirts bearing the slogan “Walk on, Dude.”
Kromelis has been a fixture in downtown street lifestyle, usually observed browsing within merchants and walking the streets of the Magnificent Mile and Streeterville. He has been showcased in news tales and video clips, which include a YouTube element titled “Dudementary.” A couple of yrs in the past, an individual created a Facebook page wherever people publish sightings.
Kromelis once joked: “I’m like the Kardashians — I’m well-known for carrying out almost nothing.”
Riggs observed him most not too long ago in Millennium Park near the skating rink about three months in the past.
She resolved towards hanging up a conversation mainly because she didn’t want to jolt him out of his plan. But he seemed content and wholesome.
When she would prevent and briefly chat with him following the attack, he hardly ever truly “made the connection” that she was the man or woman who experienced instigated the GoFundMe, which was later on taken about by Kromelis’ kin.
He’s constantly been tough and clearly in pretty excellent condition but immediately after the beating, there ended up “long lapses” exactly where she would not see him and then, the pandemic arrived.
He “didn’t engage” as substantially as he employed to, and moved significantly slower, Riggs explained. “He was a lot more isolated with himself.”
“He utilised to be the speediest gentleman in Chicago. I would see him in Palos Heights and then a half a working day later on see him in Edgewater or around Wrigley Discipline,” Riggs claimed.
“He was just about everywhere.”
When folks on the avenue converse to him and request how he is carrying out, he would reply but was by no means extremely forthcoming.
“It was not like he was isolated on the road,” Riggs explained. “He was normally pretty well mannered and was pretty reticent about speaking about himself. He would speak about everything in the earth but not himself.”
No arrests experienced been manufactured as of Wednesday evening.