CHICAGO — A homeless man known to Chicago residents as the “Walking Man” was critically injured Wednesday after being doused in flammable liquid and lit on fire, authorities said.
Joseph Kromelis, 75, who once told the Chicago Tribune that he “roams as a way of life,” was sleeping when a man he did not know assaulted him at around 2:50 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the newspaper reported.
A security officer from a nearby building used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Kromelis suffered third-degree burns to “nearly half of his body,” according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department.
The attack came nearly six years to the day after Kromelis was beaten with a baseball bat on May 24, 2016, WFLD-TV reported.
Kromelis was easily recognizable by his tall frame, striking facial features, long flowing hair and bushy mustache, according to the Sun-Times.
“We were just told he’s most likely to die,” one law enforcement source told the newspaper. Kromelis was identified through prescriptions found in his pocket, according to the Sun-Times.
“This is really not the first or second time something unfortunate like this has happened,” Ali Simmons, with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, told WLS-TV.
Police have not identified a motive for the attack but said they are reviewing security footage, the Tribune reported.
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