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TINLEY PARK, Ill. (STMW) – A law enforcement source Sunday said the group beaten at a Tinley Park restaurant Saturday was made up of white supremacists, and those who assaulted them were protesters attacking their beliefs.
Police had five people in custody after the attack, which occured at The Ashford House, 7959 W. 159th St. around noon. No charges have been filed yet, and the suspects did not appear in bond court Sunday.
Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki on Sunday said police do not know if the protesters had any connection to the NATO Summit in downtown Chicago.
He said police still have 35 to 40 people to interview, and charges could come Monday
The men in custody aren’t talking yet to police, he said.
Restaurant owner Mike Winston said he was working in the kitchen the restaurant during the lunch rush when a waitress screamed that a fight had broken out in the dining room.
Winston said a mob wielding metal batons and hammers hurt ten diners in the attack, and three of those were hospitalized.
Winston said 18 young men, all wearing hooded jackets and obscuring their faces with scarves and other coverings, stormed into the restaurant. Police said there were 15 to 18 attackers.
“They came running in the door single file,” said Winston, who owns the restaurant and the adjacent Winston’s Market.
Winston and police said the men knew who their targets were and that the attack wasn’t a random act of violence. Winston said the mob “targeted” a group of 20 diners, all of whom were from out of state.
“Once they attacked the table, they went and started hitting random people,” Winston said.
Along with hammers, the men used what Winston described as “old-fashioned police batons” as well as metal batons.
“Four or five people got knocked over the head pretty good, enough to require stitches,” he said.
He chased after one of the attackers “and had him on the ground, then five guys got out of a car and started kicking the (crap) out of me,” Winston said.
Winston said he was kicked in the back of the head and suffered several bruises, but he was the only restaurant employee who was hurt.
“They did a whole lot of damage,” he said. “They flipped over tables, they broke half the dishes.”
Surveillance cameras inside the restaurant captured the attack and footage was turned over to Tinley Park police, Winston said.
Police said the attackers fled in three vehicles, and that one vehicle was stopped near the intersection of 159th and Harlem Avenue.
Winston said that during the attack most of the men’s face coverings were torn off.
“Most of these kids were white, and they all looked like they were between 18 and 25,” he said.
In a news release, police tried to assure residents the attack was “an isolated incident” and that “there is no immediate threat to the community.”
Winston said he has “no flippin’ idea” what sparked the incident.
“We’re just a little family restaurant,” he said.
Tinley police said they were being assisted in the investigation by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)