Person charged with setting ‘Walking Man’ on fire while he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue

A person has been charged with setting fire to a homeless man, known to walk the streets of the Loop, last week as he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue.

Joseph Guardia, 27, has been charged with attempted murder and arson after pouring flammable liquid on Joseph Kromelis, 75 – known as ‘The Walking Man’ and ‘The Walking Dude’ – and l burst into flames Wednesday morning in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash. , Chicago police said.

Security officers at a nearby building found Kromelis with third-degree burns to 65% of his body. He was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Officials said his chances of survival were not considered good. “We have just been told that he is most likely to die,” said a police source.

Police released surveillance video of Guardia boarding a Blue Line train at Clark and Lake CTA station. He was arrested Friday in the 2400 block of West Belmont Avenue.

Kromelis is well known to people who frequent downtown Chicago, easily recognized by his tall stature, striking facial features, long flowing hair, and bushy mustache.

Six years ago, on May 24, 2016, he was brutally beaten by someone with a baseball bat in the 400 block of East Lower Wacker Drive. The two were struggling for the bat when the police arrived.

Authorities have not released any additional information about Kromelis’ condition.

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