Bail set for five in attack at Tinley restaurant; two victims also charged
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org May 21, 2012 11:08AM
Police investigate the scene at The Ashford House Restaurant, 7959 W. 159th Street, in Tinley Park, IL where allegedly a group of people entered and started assaulting patrons Saturday, May 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:09AM
Authorities charged five Indiana men Monday stemming from a weekend attack in which a group of masked assailants wielding bats and batons stormed a Tinley Park restaurant in broad daylight, beating diners they believed were connected to a white supremacist group.
Two of the people attacked at the restaurant also are facing charges.
“They’re both extreme groups,” Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki said. “It’s extreme stances. The anti-racism group is against racism, against anti-semitism, against homophobia, where the other group is for white people only. In one sense, they are both about supremacy, but from totally opposite ends.”
The five men from Indiana were charged with felony mob action, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property for their alleged roles in the attack. Ten people were injured in the attack at The Ashford House in Tinley Park, and three people were taken to local hospitals with head wounds, prosecutors said.
The five men who were charged are: John Tucker, 26, of Martinsville, Ind.; Cody Sutherlin, 23, of Bloomington, Ind.; Dylan Sutherlin, 20, and Jason Sutherlin, 33, both of Gosport, Ind.; and Alex Stuck, 22, of Bloomington, Ind.
Two of the victims also arrested were Steven Eugene Speers, 33, of Grand Forks, N.D.; and Francis John Gilroy, Jr., 65, of West Palm Beach, Fla. Speeers was arrested on a warrant for possession of child pornography from Dallas County, Texas; and Gilroy was charged with unlawful possession of weapons by a felon, police said.
Law enforcement officials on Sunday said the victims’ group consisted of people with white supremacy views, and those who assaulted them were protestors attacking their beliefs. Assistant state’s attorney Mike Deno said the defendants believed the group to be a white supremacist organization.
After the attack, the offenders fled in three vehicles.
An off-duty Tinley Park police sergeant monitoring the police radio heard a description of the cars, saw the Neon, and stopped it about five minutes later at 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue, not far from Interstate 80, Deno said. That’s about four miles from the restaurant, and less than a mile from the Tinley Park police station.
Police found two expandable batons, a knife, a pair of gloves and several dark-colored hooded sweatshirts in the vehicle, Deno said.
“She detained the five guys until backup came by to help with the arrest,” Zabrocki said. “She’s a hero.” Deno said the group attacked belonged to The Illinois European Heritage Association, which claims associations with White News Now and Storm Front. Zabrocki said the other group goes by the name, the Anti-Racist Action Group.
A meeting for May 19 and 20 “in the Chicago area” is touted at www.stormfront.org, an Internet forum for white supremacy groups. Visitors are asked to send their checks to the Illinois European Heritage Association based in Wood River. The site said the focus of the meeting was economic networking, adding: “Folks helping folks. Work for Whites. It is time we took our jobs back!”
“Somehow the other group found out about it (the meeting) and took umbrage with their meeting at all. I wish they had met in a farmer’s field,” Zabrocki said. “This is so random. It could’ve happened anywhere in Illinois.”
Bails for the men ranged from $175,000 to $250,000. Jason Sutherlin’s bail was set at $250,000, and Cody Sutherlin’s at $200,000. The other three all were set at $175,000.
Jason Sutherlin had a previous felony conviction in 1998 for a burglary charge, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but eight years were suspended. Cody and Dylan Sutherlin each was charged with operating while intoxicated in Indiana, prosecutors said.
Public defender David Colaric said Stuck has no children and is unemployed. Cody Sutherlin has no children and has worked for the past two years as a restaurant manager. A graduate of Bloomington North High School, he has an associate’s degree in business from Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, Colaric said.
Jason Sutherlin has visitation rights for his one child who lives with its mother, has worked full time as a bartender the past four years and has earned his GED, Colaric said. Dylan Sutherlin, who lives with brother Cody, also is a graduate of Bloomington North High School, Colaric said. He’s completed 37 of 52 weeks in an automotive tech program, Colaric said.
Tucker, a graduate of Owen Valley High School in Spencer, Ind., has worked full time as bartender for two years, Colaric said.
Colaric questioned the state’s case against his clients: “No victim has identified any of these individuals striking anyone or causing property damage,” he said.
The wild attack took place at The Ashford House, 7959 W. 159th St., about 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
Deno said the defendants, who wore hoodies or had scarves covering their faces, hit patrons, broke dishes and overturned tables. Before setting bail, the judge noted that the attacks were unprovoked and that the five had “disguised themselves.”
Restaurant owner Mike Winston has said property damage repairs will cost $10,000 to $15,000.
About 10 people who were in court in support the five men stormed out of the courthouse after bail was set. They declined comment, cursing and making obscene gestures toward several reporters.
More charges may be filed against the men before the next court date of June 12, Daly said. “There are a lot of people we’re still talking with,” she said.