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Retired CFD chief’s son who was brutally murdered worked with dad on ‘Chicago Fire’

Retired Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Steve Chikerotis and his son, David, on the set of "Chicago Fire." | Provided

In the week before his son’s brutal killing, Steve Chikerotis, a retired deputy district chief with the Chicago Fire Department, saw his boy twice on the set of the popular television show he helped create.

Being with his son, David Chikerotis, and working together on “Chicago Fire,” was special for the father.

On Wednesday afternoon, seated in the kitchen of his Clearing neighborhood home, the father said he knows now that every moment the two spent together was a blessing.

“He was known as ‘The Beast,'” Steve Chikerotis said of David’s nickname on the set. “He was the hardest working guy you could find. He liked the teamwork, working with others to make something.”

David Chikerotis was found severely beaten on Saturday morning at a home in south suburban Evergreen Park by officers responding to a 911 call made minutes earlier by David’s older brother.

“Every bone in his face was broken. That’s how many punches and kicks he had taken,” his father said.

From left: Jessica Doherty, Jonathan Owens and Stacy Krisik. | Evergreen Park police
From left: Jessica Doherty, Jonathan Owens and Stacy Krisik. | Evergreen Park police

His brother, Luke, had gotten a call from David’s cellphone that morning — only the person on the line wasn’t David. In the background, Luke could hear his brother’s voice saying, “Don’t come, Luke. It’s a trap.”

Even after being struck over and over for hours, David was trying to protect his brother, his family said.

Luke immediately called 911, sending officers to the 8700 block of South Francisco in Evergreen Park, and then hurried there himself. By the time he arrived, David was already in the ambulance and three people were in custody.

David was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he underwent emergency surgery. But on Monday morning, he died of his injuries.

Jonathan M. Owens, 30; his girlfriend, 26-year-old Stacy Krisik, and 26-year-old Jessica Doherty have each been charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in David’s beating, according to officials. All were denied bail at a hearing Monday in Bridgeview.

Prosecutors have not said if the trio will face upgraded charges after David’s death.

According to his father, David was beaten for three to four hours, during which time, the three charged with hurting his son allegedly took breaks to smoke marijuana and then resumed hitting him.

“How can you do that?” his father asked. “How can you keep hurting someone for that long? It’s unfathomable.”

Police have released few details about the attack, and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office did not respond Wednesday to requests for more information about David’s killing.

Steve Chikerotis, who worked 36 years for the Fire Department, retiring to focus on the show, got first involved with the movie business as an adviser for the 1991 thriller “Backdraft.” In addition to advising “Chicago Fire,” Chikerotis also serves as a producer and has appeared as an actor on 20 episodes of the series, playing CFD District Chief Steve Walker.

Steve Chikerotis has also received writing credits on two episodes of the show, which debuted its seventh season in September, according to the Internet Movie Database.

David had been working full-time on the most recent season of “Chicago Fire” as a set designer, a job he took immense pride in, his mother, Mary Chikerotis, said. It made him feel confident and successful — which were important to the 31-year-old.

David had gone down a tough road as a teenager and struggled with addiction as a young man, his family said. A gifted athlete and student, drugs took from him the oversized personality that his family all loved.

Court records show David was charged with a variety of nonviolent crimes during that time. He pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge in 2008 and again in 2010 to possession of burglary tools.

But that was all in the past, his family said. In December, he celebrated four years of sobriety.

It was a struggle, Steve Chikerotis recalled, smiling as he pointed to all the white hairs on his head, but he said it made the family stronger.

Recently, David and his father had been trading ideas back and forth. Someday, Steve said he hopes to complete a manuscript based on his son’s stories.

Just like everything he did, David threw himself into sobriety head-first and full-hearted. At meetings, he would reach out to young addicts and sponsor them.

For the last four years, he was doing well: He sold cars at a dealership in Evergreen Park and eventually got into the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics union and started working as a grip on T.V. shows, including “Empire” and “The Exorcist.”

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David had gone to Evergreen Park the night before his death for a party, his parents said. The gathering was held by friends of his new girlfriend, who they say was present during the beating he suffered.

They don’t know why he was attacked, but they don’t believe he had relapsed.

They want to look for the silver lining, they said — to see the light as opposed to dwelling in the darkness.

On Wednesday, they were waiting for an employee from Gift of Hope, the not-for-profit organ and tissue donation organization to arrive.

David loved to give gifts. As a child he would take his piggy bank money to buy small presents for his mother. As an adult, he always wanted to make sure any gift he gave was the best possible one for the person.

“He had a big heart,” his mother said of his organ donation. “One last gift.”

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