Suspect Charged With Allegedly Setting Homeless Man on Fire in River North Held Without Bail

A judge in felony bond court Monday ordered 27-year-old Joseph Guardia held without bail after he was arrested and charged with attempted murder for allegedly setting a homeless man on fire in the city's Near North last week.

Chicago police say just before 3 a.m. on May 25, Guardia doused with flammable liquid 75-year-old Joseph Kromelis, known to many as "The Walking Man" while Kromelis was sleeping, in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash Avenue.

Guardia then stood over the victim and proceeded to light him on fire, police say.

According to court documents, Kromelis' upper body immediately became engulfed in flames. As the victim got up and began thrashing around trying to put the fire out, the defendant fled the scene and boarded a CTA Blue Line train.

According to the authorities, Kromelis was on fire for approximately 3 minutes.

The suspect then fled the scene and boarded a CTA Blue Line train, authorities said.

According to authorities, Kromelis is currently sedated, sustaining
severe burns to more than 50% of his body. He is not expected to recover.

Guardia was later taken into custody and charged with attempted first-degree murder and one felony count of aggravated arson resulting in bodily harm.

In video statements made to detectives, Guardia stated that "he is an angry person and decided he was going to set something on fire." The defendant then claimed he didn’t know a person was there.

Guardia's next court date is June 6, according to court documents.

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