CHICAGO - A neighborhood dispute turned deadly Saturday night when a Chicago man facing eviction gunned down five people in his condominium complex, four of them as they sat down to a family dinner, authorities said.
Krysztof Marek, 66, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced Monday morning.
“What he’s being accused of is nothing short of savagery,” Guglielmi wrote on Twitter.
The dead include Tsvetanka Kostadinova and her husband, Ivaylo Popov, both 43, along with Popov’s mother, Iskra Pourel Popova, 65, and her husband, David Hanik, 61, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday. The four family members were seated around the dinner table, awaiting a fifth family member to join them, prosecutors said.
The Tribune reported that all four were found dead on the floor around the table, their food untouched.
The fifth victim is Jolanta Topolska, 53, who lived in a separate condo one floor above Popov and his wife.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Marek appeared Monday morning in court, where Cook County Circuit Judge John Lyke Jr. denied bail for the alleged gunman.
“What I just heard is evil on steroids,” Lyke said after hearing details of the shooting, the Sun-Times reported.
Krysztof Marek, 66, formally charged by Detectives & Prosecutors with 5 counts of Murder in connection with Saturday's devastating shooting on the NW side. Incident stemmed from a dispute between Marek & his neighbors and what he's being accused of is nothing short of savagery. pic.twitter.com/U15Mg036cH— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) October 14, 2019
The newspaper reported that Saturday night’s shooting is one of the deadliest in the city in the past 20 years. The gunfire started around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, when Marek went to his next-door neighbor’s second-floor condo in the 6700 block of West Irving Park Road in the city’s Dunning neighborhood.
“For reasons we yet don’t know, he opened fire on all four of those individuals, killing them all,” First Deputy Chicago Police Superintendent Anthony Riccio told reporters at the scene Saturday night.
Before leaving his own condo that night, Marek left notes, written in Polish, taped to his door, prosecutors said in court Monday morning.
“Tomorrow. No mercy without any stupid hesitation. Remember who you are. Remember what this piece of (expletive) is doing to you. Enough,” one note read, according to the Sun-Times.
The second note read, in part, “Remember, whatever (expletive) they do to you, you control it yourself, not them. Enough. They have to pay for it.”
The Tribune reported that investigators found other “cryptic letters” in his home addressing specific issues Marek had with his various neighbors.
The Sun-Times reported that after killing Kostadinova, Popov, Hanik and Pourel-Popova in the second-floor condo, Marek then went to the third floor of the building, where he shot Topolska, who lived there with family.
The Tribune said Tuesday that a witness who heard the initial gunfire told investigators Marek was visibly shaking as he made his way to Topolska’s home.
Topolska ran from her home after being wounded, but the gunman caught up with her and shot her in the back of the head, the newspaper reported. She was rushed to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in critical condition, but died Sunday morning.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court that a witness saw Topolska run down a stairwell, leaving a trail of blood behind. Another witness saw her roll down the stairs and fall on the second-floor landing after she was shot in the head, the Tribune reported.
Riccio said Marek knew each of the victims who lived in the building.
“It definitely wasn’t random. He lives in the building; he’s lived there for 15 years,” Riccio said. “It’s definitely targeted. It was not a random act.”
Riccio said there were no signs of forced entry. The Tribune reported Tuesday that Topolska’s door was unlocked when Marek got there.
Marek surrendered to officers without incident after the shooting. The Tribune reported that Marek awaited officers outside the building, his hands in the air.
“I think you’re looking for me. I did it,” Marek told the officers, according to the Sun-Times.
He pointed the officers to the .40-caliber handgun he used, which they found on a coffee table in his living room, the newspaper said.
Marek is a father of three and grandfather of six, his public defender said in court, according to the Tribune. Authorities first described him as a retired construction worker, but his attorney, Courtney Smallwood, said he retired after 25 years as a cross-country truck driver, the newspaper reported.
“We don’t know what set him off tonight, but we do know there’s been a history between him and most of the occupants in the building,” Riccio said.
Watch Riccio discuss the shooting below, courtesy of WGN in Chicago.
Riccio said the history of incidents between Marek and his neighbors “involve anything from making too much noise to exchanging dirty looks to bumping into each other on the stairwell.”
Sergio Macias, the manager of the condo building, told the Sun-Times that police had to be called Aug. 3 after Marek was accused of punching a younger man in the face. The man he was accused of punching is Topolska’s son, Macias said.
A neighbor told the newspaper the son was in the family’s condo when his mother was mortally wounded. Topolska’s son declined to comment when reached by the Sun-Times.
Murphy said Topolska’s son saw Marek point the gun at his mother, who yelled, “The neighbor!” before she was shot, according to the Tribune.
Alex Plociennik, who lives two doors down from Marek, told the newspaper Marek had problems with many of the tenants, including three of the victims of Saturday’s rampage.
Both the Sun-Times and the Tribune reported that Marek had been going through significant financial trouble. He filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago.
The Tribune said court records show Marek reported he owed $24,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and more than $60,000 to creditors. His bankruptcy petition also stated his income had gone from $49,000 in 2015 to less than $12,500 in 2017.
His condo went into foreclosure in November 2017, the newspaper reported.
Murphy said in court that the building’s condo association was seeking to have Marek evicted for not paying his mortgage or his association fees, the Tribune said.
Hanik’s brothers told the Tribune Sunday night that Hanik and his wife, both natives of Bulgaria, are thought to have gone to the condo for dinner at the invitation of Popov and his wife.
The Haniks told the Tribune they first learned something was amiss when their sister called around 4 a.m. Sunday. She told her brothers she’d been notified by her local police department that Chicago detectives were trying to reach her, but she did not know why.
“Five to 10 minutes later, she called back in tears, and she said, ‘It’s Dave and (his wife),’” Rich Hanik said.
The Haniks told the Tribune they pieced together what likely happened after seeing the address of the massacre. Rich Hanik said he remembered the address from a card he sent Popov and Kostadinova after their wedding.
David Hanik and his wife met about a decade ago at a nightclub, his brothers told the newspaper. They would have celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in December.
The men said they couldn’t understand why Marek would have targeted their family members.
“Why he chose them, except for convenience -- that they were there -- I don’t know,” Rich Hanik told the Tribune. “They all were obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
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