Charges filed in apparently random murder on restaurant rooftop

CHICAGO — Prosecutors on Saturday accused a man of murdering a heating and cooling contractor on the roof of a West Rogers Park restaurant in May. The baffling, apparently random attack was part of an hours-long string of crimes and bizarre behavior by 33-year-old Brandon Sanders, officials said.

Rasim Katanic, 69, was working on a cooler compressor on the roof of Tahoora restaurant, 2345 West Devon, when someone attacked him around 4:25 p.m. on May 12, officials said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office determined that he died from injuries suffered in an assault, including multiple stab wounds.

During Sanders’ bail hearing on Saturday, prosecutor Kathryn Morrissey detailed Sanders’ movements before and after the murder, citing eyewitness accounts and extensive video records.

Sanders

About two hours before the murder, Sanders entered Hanmi Bank, 6335 North Western, which is directly behind the eventual crime scene, Morrissey said. Bank employees asked him to leave because he was acting erratically. Instead, he called the FBI’s national threat center, gave his name, birthdate, and phone number, and claimed a plot was afoot to overthrow the U.S. government. He left before the police arrived.

A few minutes later, he walked through a shoe store adjacent to Tahoora and exited the back door into a courtyard area, Morrissey said. The shoe store employee locked the back door, leaving Sanders outside.

Morrissey said the only way out of the courtyard was through the stairwell of an adjacent mixed-use building. Two Loyola students who live there returned from graduation on May 12 to find their apartment burglarized, she said. A skylight had been removed.

The students told police that someone had shaved in their bathroom and discarded some clothing and a Hanmi Bank flyer. The burglar also stole some of their clothes, left a pair of boots in the oven, and dropped Katanic’s wallet on their computer table. Morrissey said investigators found a discarded water bottle in the apartment that preliminarily tested positive for Sanders’ DNA.

Video showed Sanders leaving the building about 90 minutes after the murder wearing the Loyola students’ clothing with Katanic’s keys hanging from his waist, Morrissey continued.

Sanders proceeded to a nearby furniture store where he used to work. He told a manager there that the store did not have to pay rent anymore because their landlord was “dead on the roof” and he “took care of it,” Morrissey said. Two store employees agreed to drive Sanders home, but they kicked him out of the car in the 6400 block of North California because he was acting erratically. Police found Katanic’s wallet, phone, and keys on that block.

Late that night, allegedly wearing the Loyola students’ clothing, Sanders flagged down an Evanston police officer and asked to be taken to a hospital.

Investigators arrested Sanders on Thursday. He’s charged with first-degree murder, murder during the commission of a forcible felony, armed robbery, and residential burglary.

Judge Ankur Srivastava held him without bail.

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