Joseph Firek charged with murder, hate crime in Rogers Park assault

March 21, 2014 (CHICAGO)

"I want my Dad back. I really want my Daddy," Masharah Tingling, 15, said. Her father, a popular figure in Rogers Park who boxed when he was a teenager, died while protecting her, she said, from a man who brushed up against her.

"Who's going to pick me up from school now? Who's going to walk me home? Who's going to be home with me when my mom's at work? I don't have my dad in my life no more. He may not be here physically, but I know he's here spiritually. And I know he's just my other guardian angel. I just want my dad back," Masharah said.

In court on Friday, prosecutors said Firek, 59, brushed up against Masharah as she was walking with her father in the 7100-block of North Clark Street on Wednesday afternoon.

"He was staring at me up and down, eyeballing me and everything....and then my dad, being a father, he got protective and put me behind him...he told the guy to go away," Masharah said.

At that point, according to the police report, Firek pushed Tingling and yelled racial slurs.

"The defendant looked at the victim and said, "What's up n******." The victim pulled his daughter behind him," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Glendon Runk said.

Then Firek allegedly struck Tingling several times in the chest. Tingling and his daughter ran to a nearby business, where he collapsed. Firek followed, Masharah said.

"He's like, 'I hope he's okay, I hope I didn't kill him.' And he's telling me to calm down. I told him you have no right to tell me to calm down...because that's my dad."

Tingling was pronounced dead at a hospital. He had diabetes and heart disease. He had a pacemaker. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office determined his ailing health and the assault led to his death, which was ruled a homicide.

Firek's public defender said his client is under out-patient, psychiatric care for mental illness. He's being held on $250,000 bond. A friend of Firek's who did not want to be identified said he often walks around the neighborhood talking to himself, and believes the confrontation could have been a misunderstanding.

"They minding they own business, having fun. The daughter and dad talking, and here he come giving her pervert looks. How dare you?" Yolanda Simmons, ex-wife, said.

"That man took my dad away from me...and now my dad can't see me go to 8th grade graduation...and that's all he ever wanted to do was see me graduate," Masharah said.

Firek has a long criminal record that includes six felony convictions, most of which are burglaries. He was out on parole when the attack occurred.

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