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Tinley Park man charged with felony hate crime

Joseph Berndt

Joseph Berndt

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Updated: October 6, 2012 1:48PM



A Tinley Park man who threw a brick at a black man, attacked him with a metal pipe and yelled racial slurs as the victim was working in the neighborhood is facing felony hate crime charges, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Joseph Berndt, 47, of 17903 S. Highland Ave., who is white, has been charged with aggravated assault, battery and a hate crime, officials said.

Circuit Court Judge Peter Felice set bail at $25,000 Tuesday for Berndt, who appeared at the Bridgeview courthouse.

According to prosecutors, a 51-year-old man was hired by a bank to clean up a residence that was in foreclosure in the 6200 block of West 179th Street.

On Sunday, while the man was working on the property, which borders Berndt’s home, Berndt began yelling racial slurs and accused the man of burglarizing the property, according to prosecutors.

When the man explained he was permitted to be there, Berndt went on the property and threw a beer can and a brick at him, prosecutors said. The man fled behind a gate and leaned against it to try to fend off Berndt. While the man tried to keep the gate shut, Berndt tried to hit him with a metal pipe by swinging it over the fence, according to prosecutors.

The man then tried to flee but was chased by Berndt, who continued swinging the pipe, prosecutors said.

After the man fell as he was being chased, Berndt, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 245 pounds, jumped on top of him, started choking him and threatened to kill him, prosecutors said.

The man managed to break free and call police as Berndt returned to his home, police said.

Berndt told police he thought the man was attempting to burglarize the house, Tinley Park police Cmdr. Pat McCain said.

“This speaks for itself. Let me ask you something: If you saw someone who looked to be breaking into a house, what would you do? Go down there or call the police?” McCain said.

A phone call Tuesday to Berndt’s home was not returned.

According to court records, Berndt had not been charged with any previous hate crimes. McCain said Berndt had nothing more than a “few traffic tickets” over the years.

Berndt is next due in court Sept. 17.

This is the second violent attack with racial implications in Tinley Park this year.

In May, five Indiana men were arrested after they allegedly attacked an alleged white supremacist group at the Ashford House restaurant, 7959 W. 159th St.

The five men are charged with armed violence, mob action and aggravated battery for their roles in the May 19 attack. They are next due in court Sept. 27.



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