Man who hit River North guard is 'going to make this right'

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Matthew De Leon | Chicago Police

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Matthew De Leon was “horrified” when he saw video of himself punching a security guard who had tried to shoo him away from a River North apartment building, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“I was there personally when he turned himself in” around midnight Monday, attorney Richard Fenbert said Wednesday at a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. “He expressed deep remorse. He’s going to make this right for the victim and her family.”

The promise didn’t sway Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr., who set bail at $250,000 for De Leon, an active-duty soldier from Portage Park who is due to report to a base in Hawaii in three weeks. De Leon, 23, faces one count each of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place and aggravated battery of a peace officer. Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antoinetti said the blow broke bones in the guard’s face, though the guard cleaned up a pool of De Leon’s vomit outside the building before going to the hospital.

“I considered your request for $150,000 bond,” Panarese said to Fenbert. “I’m also considering the orbital and nasal frature of the victim.”

The judge’s order drew a gasp from one of the half-dozen members of DeLeon’s family in the courtroom gallery.

Prosecutors said a heavily intoxicated De Leon slumped against the side of a condo building at 630 N. Franklin around 2:15 a.m. Sunday, when the security guard, a 46-year-old woman, walked up to him and offered to call him an ambulance, or the police.

The guard went back inside, but returned soon after to find De Leon still outside. She went back inside and called police, then went outside, where she heard De Leon vomiting. The guard went inside for a mop and bucket, coming outside to find De Leon with his wife, sister in-law and the sister in-law’s boyfriend.

The group began to move away from the building, but De Leon threw water from a water bottle at the guard, the punched her. The group walked away without offering the guard help, but Fenbert said De Leon was horrified when he saw the video of the encounter, which had gone viral after it was posted to the internet, and residents of the building started a fund-raising campaign to pay for the guard’s medical expenses.

Violence responder Dawn Valenti of Chicago Survivors said De Leon turned to them for help, and turned himself in Tuesday morning, emphasizing that she “did not condone what he did.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Asad Khan, president of the board for the 630 N. Franklin Building, for the security guard, identified as Zoa Stigler. Khan says she “was attacked by a thug as she was doing her job by protecting our building early Sunday morning, which happened to be Mother’s Day. He fractured her right eye socket and also the bridge of her nose.”

He added that, “She was initially trying to help this thug by checking up on him to make sure he was doing all right as he was lying on the ground by the building.”

He said she even continued to do her job after the attack.

“Zoa is so dedicated and hardworking that in spite of being in pain and disoriented, she had the mindset of cleaning up the mess caused by this thug before being taken to the hospital,” Khan wrote.

The page, to help pay medical bills for the woman, had raised over $12,700 toward its goal of $20,000 by Tuesday afternoon.

Fenbert said that De Leon enlisted in the Army after graduating from Guerin College Prep High School, and had served two tours, including a nine-month stint in Afghanistan. Military officials have been notified of De Leon’s arrest, Fenbert said.