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Suspects wielding bats attack diners at Tinley Park restaurant

Police investigate scene The Ashford House Restaurant 7959 W. 159th Street Tinley Park where group people entered started assaulting patrons

Police investigate the scene at The Ashford House Restaurant, 7959 W. 159th Street, in Tinley Park, where a group of people entered and started assaulting patrons on May 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 19, 2012 1:15AM

It was the middle of the lunch rush Saturday, and Mike Winston was working in the kitchen of his Tinley Park restaurant, The Ashford House, when a waitress screamed that a fight had broken out in the dining room.

Police call the melee at the restaurant a targeted assault by a mob that Winston said wielded metal batons and hammers. Ten diners were hurt in the attack, and three of those were hospitalized.

Tinley Park police had five suspected assailants in custody, and Winston said 18 young men, all wearing hooded jackets and obscuring their faces with scarves and other coverings, stormed into the restaurant. Police said there were 15 to 18 attackers.

“They came running in the door single file,” said Winston, who owns The Ashford House, 7959 W. 159th St., and the adjacent Winston’s Market.

Winston and police said the men knew who their targets were and that the attack wasn’t a random act of violence. Winston said the mob “targeted” a group of 20 diners, all of whom were from out of state.

“Once they attacked the table, they went and started hitting random people,” Winston said.

Along with hammers, the men used what Winston described as “old-fashioned police batons” as well as metal batons.

“Four or five people got knocked over the head pretty good, enough to require stitches,” he said.

He chased after one of the attackers “and had him on the ground, then five guys got out of a car and started kicking the (crap) out of me,” Winston said.

Winston said he was kicked in the back of the head and suffered several bruises, but he was the only restaurant employee who was hurt.

“They did a whole lot of damage,” he said. “They flipped over tables, they broke half the dishes.”

Surveillance cameras inside the restaurant captured the attack and footage was turned over to Tinley Park police, Winston said.

Police said the attackers fled in three vehicles, and that one vehicle was stopped near the intersection of 159th and Harlem Avenue.

Winston said that during the attack most of the men’s face coverings were torn off.

“Most of these kids were white, and they all looked like they were between 18 and 25,” he said.

In a news release, police tried to assure residents the attack was “an isolated incident” and that “there is no immediate threat to the community.”

Winston said he has “no flippin’ idea” what sparked the incident.

“We’re just a little family restaurant,” he said.

Winston said employees would get the restaurant back in shape to reopen Sunday morning.

Tinley police said they were being assisted in the investigation by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and were awaiting charges to be approved by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office against the five men in custody.

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