CHICAGO –The man who used a baseball bat to viciously attack a well-known street peddler known as “The Walking Man” has been charged with reckless conduct.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family is raising money to help him once he gets out of the hospital.
His family says he was beaten badly and suffered severe injuries to his eyes which required surgery. They don’t know if he’ll see or walk the streets he loved so much ever again.
The man is 69-year-old Joseph Kromelis. He has built quite a following in Chicago. Joseph came with his family from Lithuania back in the late 40s or early 50s and at some point found comfort in life walking the streets of Chicago.
WGN News spoke with Joseph’s nephew Vytas Vaitkus and his wife Vilija. The last time they saw him was about seven years ago at a family function. They were notified about his beating a few days ago when a reporter called.
They say on Tuesday Joseph was walking on Wacker Dr and passed 41-year-old Peery McCarlton. Joseph said “hi” to him and McCarlton then proceeded to beat him with a bat, gauge his eyes and tried to push over a railing to the pavement 20 feet below.
Police say they arrested McCarlton while on top of Joseph.
In order to help his uncle, Vytas started a GoFundMe page and have raised more than 16,000 dollars.
A support fund has been created in Joseph Kromelis’ honor – to donate, go to: www.gofundme.com