A man whose family says he has a history of mental illness is accused of stabbing a person blocks from the mayor’s home this past fall and, months later, trying to slash someone with a machete in Logan Square.
Banner Sperlazzo, 28, yelled out “In the name of Jesus Christ” while stabbing his first victim with a knife in the 2600 block of North Drake Avenue on Sept. 5, prosecutors said Tuesday.
In another attack in November, Sperlazzo ran up behind a man walking in the 2200 block of North Saint Louis Avenue and struck him in the head with a hammer, prosecutors said. Sperlazzo then allegedly unsheathed a machete and tried to stab the man, but the person outran him.
The prosecutor called both attacks “unprovoked” and “random.”
Judge Charles Beach agreed and denied bail. “Those acts and the randomness of them tell me he is a danger to the community,” Beach said.
Sperlazzo’s mental health was likely a factor in the attacks, a family member told the Sun-Times. “He doesn’t need prison, he needs help. The whole family knows that,” said the relative, who asked not be named.
Last month, police released a community alert linking the two Logan Square attacks with another one involving a machete on Nov. 24 in the 5800 block of West Altgeld Street in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. No one has been charged in the Altgeld attack.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors said the victim of the September attack was walking home from a friend’s apartment around 1 a.m. when he noticed a car stopped but running in the middle of the block.
As the victim passed the car, he heard footsteps behind him and started to run, prosecutors said. He saw a 9- to 12-inch curved knife blade at his side before he was stabbed in the abdomen. The attacker was wearing a black mask and slashed him several more times, prosecutors said.
The victim staggered down the street until two neighbors came to his aid. The man was hospitalized for two weeks and underwent two surgeries for damage to his intestines. The man also had gash across his cheek and nose.
A witness who heard screams during the attack noticed the car on the street and helped police locate the car on surveillance video, prosecutors said. A license plate reading camera identified that car as a tan 1995 Toyota registered to Sperlazzo.
Later that month, police in suburban Mount Prospect pulled over Sperlazzo for a traffic stop and impounded his car. During a search, Chicago police allegedly found a pair of blood-soaked pants with DNA that matched the victim’s.
It was not clear in court what police did next, but Sperlazzo is accused of committing a second attack on Nov. 20. A man was walking his dog in the 2200 block of North St. Louis Avenue around 2:40 a.m. when he passed Sperlazzo and nodded at him, prosecutors said.
As they passed each other, Sperlazzo struck the man in the head with a hammer, knocking him to the ground, prosecutors said. The victim turned around and allegedly saw Sperlazzo staring down at him and silently holding the hammer over his head.
He put the hammer into a jacket pocket and unsheathed a machete from across his chest, prosecutors said. He allegedly lunged at the victim with the machete, but the man turned and ran away. Sperlazzo allegedly ran after him for 10 seconds but gave up.
The victim turned around and saw the man return to a silver car parked in an alley, prosecutors said. The man received staples to his head and was treated for a concussion.
Sperlazzo was arrested Monday during a traffic stop in the 3000 block of North Halsted. He admitted to being at the location of one of the incidents but denied he was the attacker, prosecutors said. He also said the blood-soaked pants found in the car were his, and that he’s the only one who drives the car.
The victims of both attacks identified Sperlazzo in live lineups, prosecutors said.
Sperlazzo was convicted earlier this year of a domestic battery involving his father in Kane County, according to court records. He was on court supervision during the time of the attacks.
Sperlazzo was homeschooled, is homeless and has worked as a food delivery driver for two years, his defense attorney said. Police said his last listed address was in Elgin.
Sperlazzo is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He’s expected in court again Dec. 20.