Charges filed in year-old random attack that left a man badly injured in the Loop

Peter Thorne (L) and a video image of the suspect released by CPD. | Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — Nearly a year after a 53-year-old man was seriously injured after someone randomly attacked him with a metal object in the Loop, Chicago police have announced charges in the case.

As CWBChicago reported last year, cops were initially dispatched to calls about a man walking around River North with a hammer, apparently after stealing it from a tool cart at a hotel near Michigan Avenue around 9:45 a.m. on December 8.

The police could not locate the man, and the hotel did not want to file a theft report, so the matter seemed resolved.

That is, until shortly after 11 a.m. when an unknown man struck another man in the head as he walked on the first block of West Madison in the Loop, a CPD spokesperson told us last year.

“I was just outside my office on Clark and Madison,” a witness wrote in a message to CWBChicago shortly after the attack. “Guy comes from behind and hits a man in the head with a sledgehammer and walks down the middle of the road like nothing happened.”

Other witnesses thought the assailant hit the victim with a crowbar. Other people in the area also reported a man threatening pedestrians with a hammer, but no injuries were reported in those incidents.

Nearly seven weeks after the attack, detectives released a short video clip of the suspect and asked the public to help identify him.

Today, police announced that Pierre Thorne, 30, has been charged with the attack. CPD officers arrested him yesterday in the 1400 block of North Luna.

Prosecutors say he picked up a metal object of some kind, possibly a pipe, and struck the victim in the back of the head. The victim “immediately fell to the ground and began bleeding profusely from the back of his head and also sustained lacerations to his face from his fall to the ground,” prosecutors said in a detention petition.

Investigators identified Thorne through CPD surveillance footage and images provided by the Illinois Secretary of State, according to the petition. A witness also identified Thorne in a photo line-up.

Judge Maryam Ahmad detained him to await trial on charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery in a public place.

Clerk of Court records show he has faced 47 different criminal cases since 2011, all misdemeanors. The cases most often involved allegations of battery, criminal damage to property, and trespassing at locations across the city.

His most recent arrest before yesterday was in December 2020, when prosecutors charged him with simple battery for striking a person at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville. He eventually received a 60-day jail sentence, according to court records.

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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 news@cwbchicago.com