Tinley Park man charged with hate crime for alleged attack

Police say victim had been hired by a bank to maintain a neighbor’s foreclosed home and was attacked while at house

A Tinley Park man was charged with a felony hate crime for allegedly attacking a man who had been hired by a bank to maintain a neighbor’s foreclosed home earlier this month.

Joseph Berndt, 47, allegedly shouted racial slurs at the 51-year-old African-American man as he was working outside a house in the 6200 block of West 179th Street, then threw a beer can and a brick at the man, chased him through the yard while brandishing a pipe and attempted to strangle him, prosecutors said.

The victim said Berndt approached him as he was checking the gas and electric meters at the house, which he had been hired to maintain and had visited several times during the week prior, according to a Tinley Park Police report on the Sept. 1 incident.

“Hey, what are you doing? You are probably breaking in you (expletive),” Berndt said, the report states.

The victim explained he had permission to be at the house, and resumed working in the yard. Berndt left his house, which was adjacent to the foreclosed home, threw a beer can at the man and said “I’m gonna kill your (expletive),” the report states. The man ran behind a fence, but said Berndt threw a “large landscaping brick at him.”

Berndt than allegedly began swinging a large pipe at the victim, who took off running through the yard. When the man slipped and fell, Berndt allegedly jumped on his back and placed his hands around the man’s throat, repeating “I’m gonna kill your (expletive),” the report states. After a struggle, the man was able to free himself and again ran from Berndt, who spent a few minutes catching his breath and returned home.

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