Suburban Fire Official Released On Bond For Home Invasion, Retires From Department
Updated 01/07/13 – 8 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – A deputy fire chief for south suburban Chicago Ridge has been released on bond, and placed on house arrest, after he was charged with breaking into a neighbor’s condo in Tinley Park, beat her, and threatened to kill her.
CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman reports 49-year-old Gary M. Swiercz has been charged with attempted murder, home invasion, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated attempted criminal sexual assault, and residential burglary.
Swiercz resigned from the Chicago Ridge Fire Department, effective immediately, the public-safety agency said in a news release Monday.
His bail was set at $150,000 on Sunday, and he posted bond overnight and was released from jail on Monday. He was headed for his parents’ home in south suburban Worth, where he’ll be placed on house arrest.
Swiercz left the jail shortly before 10:30 a.m., escorted by Cook County Sheriff’s deputies. He was wearing an electronic monitoring device on his ankle, as part of the terms of his release.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports the deputies followed him to his parents’ home to set up the monitoring system. He will only be allowed to leave the home for work purposes, although he has been placed on indefinite administrative leave.
He’s also been ordered to stay away from the victim, her home, her job, and her church. He’s also not allowed to own or possess a gun or any other dangerous weapon.
Swiercz has no criminal history.
His parents asked reporters to leave on Monday, but neighbors said they are outraged a man accused of a violent crime will be living on their street.
“I have two daughters myself, and I just want to make sure that the neighborhood’s safe,” James Wiechec said. “To have somebody come here – move in – who’s done something like this just, to me, doesn’t make sense.”
Police said Swiercz broke into the condo of a female neighbor in the 8100 block of 168th Place in Tinley Park early Saturday morning. He allegedly was armed with a knife and wearing a ski mask. Prosecutors said he also was carrying a sex toy and lubricant.
Swiercz allegedly forced the woman who lived there to the floor and beat her. Prosecutors said Swiercz put his hands over the woman’s mouth and put a 3-inch blade to her throat.
He allegedly held the woman’s hands together, led her from the living room to the kitchen, and forced her up against a cabinet as she was screaming.
Prosecutors said he threw the woman to the ground, and slammed her head on the tiled kitchen floor three times.
A struggle ensued and Swierz allegedly fled the scene.
The victim suffered a swollen lip and a knot on the back of her head.
Witnesses allegedly saw Swiercz dumping items in a trash bin. The victim provided a description of her attacker, and police later found him in the condo building’s parking lot.
Swiercz is a deputy chief for the Chicago Ridge Fire Department and is a former fire chief for south suburban Worth.
The Chicago Ridge Fire Department has said Sweircz was placed on administrative leave, pending the results of the criminal case, and will not be performing any official duties for the department while on leave.
Some of Swiercz’s fellow firefighters said they were shocked to hear the charges against him. They called him a true professional, who was passionate about his job.
Swiercz was due back in court at the Bridgeview Courthouse on Tuesday.
(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)