A body found inside a northwest suburban pub as firefighters battled a three-alarm fire early Thursday morning has sparked an investigation by police and the state Fire Marshal's office.
The victim was identified by Schiller Park police as George Markopoulos, 67, who lived in the same building as the bar that burned. The death is under investigation by the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, but police would comment on a witness statement that the victim had been shot.
Schiller Park Fire Chief Tom Deegan said the victim lived in the "older" building at 9639 Irving Park Rd. The Horse Shoe Inn bar and restaurant is located on the first floor, police said.
"When crews got there, there was heavy smoke coming out the front door of the building," according to Deegan, who said the tavern had closed at 2 a.m. and the fire call came in about 3:45 a.m.
Firefighters were aware there was someone in the burning building and crews found the body in the tavern area, near the foot of a stairway leading to the residential area where the victim lived, Deegan said.
He was pronounced dead at 4:46 a.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
The victim was not burned, according to the medical examiner's office, and an autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
Deegan said several searches were done and no one else was found.
The fire engulfed the building and a second alarm was called at 4:10 a.m., a third at 5 a.m.
"The damage is significant," Deegan said. The alarm was canceled about 7 a.m.
Fire investigators remained on the scene as of 9 a.m. trying to find out what caused the blaze. Deegan said it is too early to say how and where it started.
No fire code violations were found in the building, which receives annual inspections. The chief initially said he had no reason to suspect foul play, but police said the fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire.
He did not know whether the victim’s living area was equipped with smoke detectors. The owner of the building was notified, but Deegan said he did not see him on the scene.
About 50 firefighters fought the fire, with crews from Leyden, Elmwood Park, Des Plaines, Stone Park, North Lake, Franklin Park, Hillside, Melrose Park and Franklin Park responding along with Schiller Park.
Irving Park Road was closed in both directions during the blaze, but as of 9 a.m., westbound lanes had been reopened.