Family members of a man stabbed to death last weekend outside Richard’s Bar in West Town say they are angry and frustrated by the release of his suspected killer without charges.
Chicago police said the 30-year-old suspect was released from custody after he claimed he stabbed 23-year-old Kenneth Paterimos in self-defense following a brawl Friday night inside the bar at 491 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“This is not a declination of charges. This is not any type of movement towards that end,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “Our investigation continues.”
The Cook County state attorney’s office has not declined to press charges and has left the investigation open, according to spokeswoman Aviva Bowen.
Family said the 30-year-old man yelled a homophobic slur at Paterimos before stabbing him multiple times outside the bar, which Guglielmi said witnesses at the scene had confirmed.
Family said they’ve been told that the 30-year-old man was apparently drunk when he arrived at the bar that night and got into an argument with Paterimos that led to a scuffle inside the bar.
The 30-year-old was escorted out of the bar by staff, police said.
Patrons and staff told Paterimos to leave through the back door, his mother, Diona Bueno, said in an interview at her Austin home Tuesday, but he left through the front door anyways.
At some point, he was stabbed in the neck, back and arm about 11:20 p.m. in the block outside, authorities said. He then stumbled back into the bar and fell to the floor.
His older brother, 29, rushed outside and held the 30-year-old man outside on the sidewalk until officers arrived, Bueno said. Paterimos was taken to Stroger Hospital and pronounced dead less than an hour later, authorities said.
Bueno said her son was headed for the Blue Line station when she believes he was attacked.
“He was stabbed in the back. How can they say it was self-defense?” she questioned.
Family members said it wasn’t in Paterimos’ nature to start a fight, much less try to continue one on the street after leaving. Police told them there was no video surveillance footage of the stabbing.
Paterimos was described as a “hard worker” and “good person” by a former colleague at L’Ours Bakery Cafe in Little Italy, where he previously worked as a barista.
He was most recently working at Step Down Cafe in Pilsen, family said. Being a barista allowed him to meet and talk with new people, which he enjoyed.
Denise Aguirre, Paterimos’ grandmother, said he would text her several times a week to tell her he had made her breakfast at the cafe and it was available for her to pick up on her way to work.
“He had that way about him,” she said, “he was very good at making everyone feel special.”
In an online fundraiser, Bueno said, “Words cannot express the tragic nightmare I have been living the last two days.”
Bueno said she’s been amazed at the number of people who have donated to the campaign, including by strangers, which will help the family cover expenses of her son’s funeral.
Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. said his office received a couple of calls from residents upset about the fatal stabbing but said the bar doesn’t have a history of issues.
“That place has been open for 30 years, and we haven’t had a problem,” Burnett told the Sun-Times. “We’ll let the investigation continue.”