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Details of alleged gunman’s violent and ‘weird’ behavior emerge after rampage claims 5 lives at NW Side condo complex

Chicago police said the shooter is a 66-year-old man with a history of issues with his neighbors in the building. He is in police custody.

Chicago police investigate a shooting that left five people dead Saturday at a condo complex in the 6700 block of West Irving Park Road. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Two months before a 66-year-old man went on a deadly shooting spree at a condo building in Dunning, police responded to the same complex when the accused gunman allegedly assaulted the son of one of the victims of Saturday’s rampage.

The suspect, identified as Krysztof Marek, was charged Monday with five counts of first-degree murder, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He was denied bail during his initial court hearing.

Sergio Macias, who manages the building in the 6700 block of West Irving Park, said Marek allegedly punched Jolanta Topolska’s son in the face on Aug. 3. Macias noted that police were then summoned to the building.

Topolska, 53, became the fifth fatality of Saturday’s shooting when she died hours after the attack. A neighbor said Topolska’s son, who is thought to be in his 20s, was at their home when his mother was fatally shot.

He declined to comment when reached by phone by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago police confirmed that officers responded to the building at 12:04 p.m. that day after a 22-year-old man reported being struck in the face by a 66-year-old man.

Records show that Marek has no criminal background, and police said no one was arrested after the incident.

“I have no idea why,” Macias said, adding that Marek denied the accusation.

Saturday’s shootings began about 5:30 p.m. when Marek went into his next-door neighbor’s unit and fatally shot a family of three men and one woman as they ate dinner, police said.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has identified one of those victims as Tsvetanka Kostadinova. The identities of the other three people shot in that unit haven’t been released.

Marek next went to the building’s third floor, where he confronted Topolska and shot her, authorities said. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition but died Sunday morning.

All of the victims appeared to be adults and knew Marek, police said.

Four people were killed in a shooting rampage at this second-floor apartment on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

‘He just seemed really spooky’

Even before the incident in August, Marek’s strange behavior had unnerved some of his neighbors.

A woman who lives in a neighboring condominium building said he “was always very friendly” until about six months ago, when his demeanor changed dramatically.

“He snapped,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“He did not seem like he was normal. He just seemed really spooky,” she added.

Alex Plociennik, a mechanic who lives two doors from Marek, described his neighbor as being “unstable.” He acknowledged that the alleged shooter “had problems” with some of the tenants in the building, including three of the victims of Saturday’s attack.

Plociennik said Marek was accused of shutting off Topolska’s power when he managed the building a few years ago. The suspect was possibly targeting Topolska because “he liked her,” Plociennik said.

Plociennik said he also remembers Marek getting into arguments with two other people who were killed. Macias recalled one of them reporting that Marek was being rude and giving him “dirty looks” on the same day Topolska’s son was allegedly assaulted.

Ewa Zielinska, who lived next door to Topolska, said the alleged gunman didn’t respond to greetings but would give her “creepy” looks.

“He was weird,” Zielinska said. “[It was] like he was angry all the time.”

A blood stain marks a second-floor balcony at a condo building in the 6700 block of West Irving Park where five people were shot to death on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Troubled finances

Court records show that Marek’s financial situation had grown increasingly dire in recent years. Police reported the suspect was a retired construction worker, but Plociennik said he was also previously employed as a truck driver.

Marek filed a personal injury lawsuit against a trucking repair company based in Little Village in August 2016, though the suit was eventually dropped. Specifics of the lawsuit weren’t immediately available Sunday.

In January 2017, Marek was sued by Discover Bank, which sought to recoup the more than $18,000 in credit card charges he accrued.

He declared bankruptcy the following September. In his petition, the suspected gunman said he received $1,387 each month from Social Security, just short of his monthly expenses of $1,390.

At the time of the filing, Marek owed $24,000 to the IRS and more than $61,000 to various credit card companies.

Marek claimed his annual income had fallen off sharply in the years leading up to his petition. In 2015, he made nearly $50,000. The next year, that fell to $30,000. Between January and September 2017, Social Security had provided him with $12,483.

County court records show Marek was in foreclosure on his condo — valued at just under $100,000 — two months after he filed for bankruptcy. That case is still pending and his attorney in the case didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Marek’s financial issues extended to the condo association. While serving as the condo’s manager, he failed to register the association with the city and didn’t keep any financial records, Macias said.

“We had to start all over,” according to Macias, who took over for the suspect in 2017.

The rampage occurred in a part of the city seldom impacted by gun violence. Records show that, prior to Saturday, the police beat where the shooting happened — 1632 — has recorded just one murder in the last five years and five murders overall in the last 10 years.

Contributing: Jermaine Nolen and Matthew Hendrickson