HOT WATER: Former Wrigleyville Bartender “Arrested…In Connection With” Uptown Fire Has Terrible Luck

Grunauer (Cook Co. Sheriff’s Office)

UPDATE 2:25PM Sept 19: After the community expressed dissatisfaction with Grunauer’s bond of $4,000, a judge today ruled that the suspect will be held without bond.
Former Wrigleyville bartender Daniel Grunauer has been “arrested…in connection with the recent fires” around Uptown’s Margate Park, 48th ward staffer Marko Zaric says.

Grunauer “gave a statement admitting to forcibly entering the building at 5009 N. Sheridan, a scene of a recent fire…[and]…detectives continue to investigate the other fire related incidents and additional charges are possible,” according to Zaric.

Grunauer is charged with one count of burglary in the Sheridan case. He is not (and has never been) charged with arson in Cook County. Bail is set at $4,000. (UPDATE 9/30: Grunauer has now been charged with attempted arson in connection with an incident at 840 W. Ainslie in late August.)

Chicago Police arson investigators continue to hunt for an arsonist who they believe remains on the streets. Another series of fires struck in Boystown this past weekend and, according to Zaric, Grunauer was in jail at the time.

Luckless Fortune

Daniel Grunauer made a cameo in this, the last Tweet from an
Oak Park gay bar before it was destroyed in an arson fire.

Grunauer, who spent a fair amount of time in Boystown bars, managed to get mentioned in the next-to-last Tweet from Oak Park gay bar Velvet Rope.

Velvet Rope was destroyed in an alleged arson fire 40 hours later. The bar’s owner, Frank Elliott, is charged with arson and insurance fraud.

On June 1 this year, a building manager in the 5800 block of Kenmore told police that two witnesses saw Grunauer throwing lit pieces of paper out of his window, setting fire to a couch below.

The police report from that incident says Grunauer – then employed as a bartender at Wrigleyville’s Fiesta Cantina – was also seen “on video shutting off power to the building… by switching off the circuit breakers.” Grunauer was charged with two counts of reckless conduct, but all charges were subsequently dropped.

The Sheridan Road incident went down seven days after that, on June 8.

On June 10, a series of early morning fires swept through Wrigleyville, destroying several cars. No one has been charged.

Grunauer moved out of his Kenmore apartment and into a unit in the 900 block of Ainslie.

Image: Google Earth
Then, a still-unsolved arson fire engulfed the porches of a building on Margate Terrace on August 19, directly behind Grunauer’s new home.

A victim of that fire has told CWB that he barely escaped with his life.

A week later, an attempted arson took place in the 800 block of Ainslie, one block east of Grunauer’s apartment. He was charged with attempted arson in that case in late September.

Grunauer, whose age is shown as both 28 and 30 in various court records, pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer in the 3400 block of Broadway four years ago.

The Chicago Tribune reported in March that he had been charged with phoning in a false marine distress at Edgewater Beach, sending the U.S. Coast Guard and the Chicago Police Department’s helicopter and Marine Unit searching for a non-existent person in the water. In court records, police alleged that Grunauer falsely reported that a man yelling something about a woman and “Allah” slipped on the rock and fell into the lake. All charges were dropped.

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About CWBChicago 4275 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is