A Walgreens store on the North Side will be “closed for the foreseeable future” after a man who told Chicago police he “uses cocaine a lot” set the place on fire this week, prosecutors said.
Judge Barbara Dawkins said during a bail hearing on Wednesday that Everardo Suarez, who is charged with aggravated arson, would be released from custody if he paid a $500 deposit toward his bail.
At around 5:48 p.m. Monday, police responded to an “arson in progress” call at Walgreens, 6140 North Western Avenue. According to Assistant State’s Attorney Sean Kelly, when they arrived, the fire department was working inside the store while Suarez sat near the front entrance, rocking back and forth and talking to himself.
Kelly claimed that a witness saw Suarez use a lighter to set fire to shaving cream and plastic items from the store’s shelves. Store employees saw Suarez light a shelf on fire, and the incident was captured on surveillance video, he said.
“After a few minutes,” the store filled with smoke, according to Kelly, and employees rushed customers out. He said that the store suffered “substantial damage.”
Suarez told police he was “tweaking out” and “high on cocaine” when he “burned the shavers,” according to Kelly, who said Suarez also burned his thumb while setting the fire. Suarez allegedly told police that he has previously set his own items on fire when he “uses cocaine a lot.”
Suarez was on bail for a misdemeanor domestic battery case when police arrested him on Monday, according to Kelly. Suarez has prior felony convictions for residential burglary and cannabis, he said.
A Chicago police officer told Judge Dawkins that Suarez could not attend his bail hearing in person because he remained hospitalized for cocaine, alcohol, and mental health conditions.