Person charged with setting ‘Walking Man’ on fire while he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue

Security officers from a nearby building found Joseph Kromelis, 75 — known as “The Walking Man” and “The Walking Dude” — with third-degree burns over 65% of his body.

SHARE Person charged with setting ‘Walking Man’ on fire while he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue
Walking Man in 2011 in the Loop.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

A person has been charged with setting a homeless man, known for walking the streets of the Loop, on fire last week while he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue.

Joseph Guardia, 27, was charged with attempted murder and arson after pouring a flammable liquid on Joseph Kromelis, 75 — known as “The Walking Man” and “The Walking Dude” — and igniting it Wednesday morning in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash, Chicago police said.

Security officers from a nearby building found Kromelis with third-degree burns over 65% of his body. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Officials said his chances of survival were not considered good. “We were just told he’s most likely to die,” one law enforcement source said.

Police released surveillance video of Guardia getting on a Blue Line train at the Clark and Lake CTA station. He was arrested Friday in the 2400 block of West Belmont Avenue.

Kromelis is well known to people who frequent downtown Chicago, easily recognized by his tall frame, striking facial features, long flowing hair and bushy mustache.

Six years ago — on May 24, 2016 — he was brutally beaten by someone with a baseball bat in the 400 block of East Lower Wacker Drive. The two were struggling over the bat when police arrived.

Officials have not released any additional information on Kromelis’ condition.

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