Chicago Ridge fire official retires after being accused of attempted murder

Gary Swiercz

January 7, 2013 6:12:10 PM PST
A Chicago Ridge deputy fire chief has retired suddenly after being accused of breaking into a woman's home and trying to kill her.

Escorted by Cook County sheriff's police, Deputy Fire Chief Gary Swiercz, 49, arrived at his parents' house in suburban Worth, Ill., shortly before 11 a.m. Monday, where he will be on electronic monitoring after posting bond and being placed on home confinement.

Prosecutors say Swiercz was wearing a ski mask when he allegedly broke into his neighbor's apartment in suburban Tinley Park, Ill.

They say he put a knife to her throat and then tried to sexually assault her. According to prosecutors, Swiercz left the apartment after a scuffle with the woman.

Police arrested Swiercz after the alleged attack Saturday morning. Prosecutors say he had a knife, rope, zip ties and duct tape with him.

Witnesses say they saw him throwing items into a dumpster.

Authorities say the woman suffered a swollen lip and some injuries to her head. She was treated and released from a hospital.

Swiercz is charged with home invasion, attempted murder, unlawful restraint, burglary and attempted sexual assault.

He appeared in court over the weekend and posted a $150,000 bond Sunday, but a judge also ordered that he be placed on electronic monitoring, which is why the release was delayed until Monday.

Neighbors in Tinley Park wonder how Swiercz could have gotten into the home.

"Exactly how he got in without anybody hearing? And what are we doing to prevent this in the future?" asked Swiercz's neighbor Lea Elliott.

"To think that someone who is supposed to be protecting us is going around doing these crimes...It's a scary thought that someone capable of saving your life can go ahead and take it away if they had the chance," said neighbor Ashley Grigaliunas.

According to authorities, Swiercz has been a Chicago Ridge firefighter for more than 24 years. Now, he has been placed on leave.

Chicago Ridge authorities issued the following statement:

"At the time, Mr. Swiercz was off duty and not performing any duty in his official capacity with the Chicago Ridge Fire Department. He is on indefinite administrative leave and will not be performing any official duties for the Chicago Ridge Fire Department."