Chicago’s ‘Walking Man’ lit on fire while sleeping on downtown street, police say

CHICAGO — A homeless man known to Chicago residents as the “Walking Man” was critically injured Wednesday after being doused in flammable liquid and lit on fire, authorities said.

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Joseph Kromelis, 75, who once told the Chicago Tribune that he “roams as a way of life,” was sleeping when a man he did not know assaulted him at around 2:50 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the newspaper reported.

A security officer from a nearby building used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Kromelis suffered third-degree burns to “nearly half of his body,” according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department.

The attack came nearly six years to the day after Kromelis was beaten with a baseball bat on May 24, 2016, WFLD-TV reported.

Kromelis was easily recognizable by his tall frame, striking facial features, long flowing hair and bushy mustache, according to the Sun-Times.

“We were just told he’s most likely to die,” one law enforcement source told the newspaper. Kromelis was identified through prescriptions found in his pocket, according to the Sun-Times.

“This is really not the first or second time something unfortunate like this has happened,” Ali Simmons, with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, told WLS-TV.

Police have not identified a motive for the attack but said they are reviewing security footage, the Tribune reported.

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