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$150,000 bail for Chicago Ridge fire official charged with attempted murder

Gary M. Swiercz  |  Phocourtesy Tinley Park Police

Gary M. Swiercz | Photo courtesy of Tinley Park Police

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Updated: February 8, 2013 6:19AM



Gary M. Swiercz served in the Army, escorted soldiers home from duty and serves today as the deputy chief of the Chicago Ridge Fire Department, his attorney said.

But prosecutors said the 49-year-old from Tinley Park is the same man who broke into a female neighbor’s apartment in the south suburb early Saturday wearing a ski mask and carrying a knife, rope, zip ties and duct tape and then threatened to slit her throat.

Swiercz is now charged with attempted first-degree murder, home invasion, aggravated unlawful restraint, residential burglary and attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault — prosecutors said he was also carrying an 8-inch sex toy and lubricant.

Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. set Swiercz’s bail at $150,000 when Swiercz appeared in bond court Sunday. Chicago Ridge fire officials, meanwhile, said he is on indefinite administrative leave. If he makes bail, Bourgeois said, Swiercz will be subject to electronic monitoring.

Members of Swiercz’s family, who attended Sunday’s court hearing, declined to speak to reporters. His attorney, Colleen McSweeney Moore, suggested prescription medication might be to blame, but she later said that’s merely speculation and couldn’t give details.

She said Swiercz is a recipient of the Army’s Good Conduct Medal, helps with Toys for Tots and served as the fire chief in south suburban Worth from 2005 to 2008.

“This is an aberration and totally out of character for this man,” she told the judge.

Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Calandriello said Swiercz lives in the same condominium complex as his victim and entered her home early Saturday. He said Swiercz put his hands over her mouth and put a 3½-inch blade to her throat.

He held his victim’s hands together, Calandriello said, as he led her from her living room to the kitchen where he forced her up against a kitchen cabinet while she was screaming.

The prosecutor said Swiercz threw his victim to the ground, and court records allege he slammed her head on the tiled kitchen floor three times.

A struggle ensued, and the attacker fled, police said.

Calandriello said the woman was left with a swollen lip and a knot in the back of her head. Prosecutors allege Swiercz fled out the rear door of the woman’s condo — the same door used to get in.

Police arrived around 2:35 a.m., and the woman was treated at the scene for minor injuries, according to Tinley Park police. Swiercz was seen in the condo’s parking lot and matched the victim’s description, police said.

Witnesses later saw Swiercz throwing items away in a Dumpster, Calandriello said.

The beige brick condominium unit where it all happened is a three-story building with one unit on each side. Swiercz’s blinds were partially open Sunday, revealing a Christmas tree and a dark interior. His balcony had a portable black grill on it, but nothing else.

A home security salesman visited the home of a neighbor who asked not to be named. She said she’s lived there only “a short time” and heard the victim screaming.

“I’m uncomfortable even being here,” she said. “It’s just disgusting.”

She said she’d met Swiercz and he seemed like a nice person.

“He was just like a regular guy,” she said. “He didn’t bother anybody. He would say hi, and when I first moved in, he introduced himself to me.”

But her mother told a reporter the suspect, a public servant, “is supposed to be helping people.”



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