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‘Walking Man,’ a Chicago figure, might not survive attack

May 30, 2022 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — An attempted murder charge has been filed after an attack on the “Walking Man,” a 75-year-old homeless man who over years has become a recognized figure in downtown Chicago.

Joseph Kromelis was badly burned while resting on Lower Wabash Avenue last Wednesday and might not survive, Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said.

A 27-year-old man charged with attempted murder and aggravated arson was denied bond during a court hearing Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“This defendant did not target someone he got in an argument with, someone who wronged him or someone that he even knew,” Hanichak said. “This defendant decided to target the most vulnerable person possible: a 75-year-old homeless man sleeping on the street.”

The man told police that he poured gasoline on blankets without knowing that Kromelis was under them, the prosecutor said.

Kromelis has been the subject of news stories and a documentary. He once told the Tribune that he roams around downtown “as a way of life.”

In 2016, Kromelis was attacked with a bat. A GoFundMe account raised more than $32,000, though it was unclear at the time if he wanted the money, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.