CHICAGO — A man who allegedly plowed his truck into a group of people picnicking Saturday in Logan Square was charged with attempted murder and denied bail Monday.
Timothy Nielsen, 57, intentionally drove into the group 5:15 p.m. Saturday near 2944 W. Logan Blvd. because he was annoyed with their dogs, prosecutors said. He’s been charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Nielsen, who has lived in the area for about 20 years, initially parked his Ford F-150 pickup truck parallel to a group of people celebrating a birthday party on the boulevard, prosecutors said. He began to complain to the group about the behavior of their dogs and became increasingly hostile, prosecutors and witnesses said.
The group asked Nielsen to leave, at which time he reversed his truck and then put it into drive. Nielsen accelerated towards the group, but initially got stuck on the curb. He accelerated again and cleared the curb and drove at the group, prosecutors said.
Rob Lopez, who was part of the group, said he heard the driver say “f—— Asians” or “goddamn Asians” to his friend, who is Asian, before hopping the curb and ramming into the picnic. Another picnicker, Troy Brown, said the group of friends is multicultural — the man the driver argued with is Asian, Brown is Black and other friends are Hispanic. The victim who the driver hit with the truck is white, Brown said.
Prosecutors made no mention of racist comments or motivations for the attack during Monday’s hearing. Instead, they said Nielsen told someone he was “annoyed with yuppies on the boulevard who are out with their dogs.”
Nielsen also allegedly said: “Watch what I’m going to do,” before speeding off towards the area where the incident occurred, the witness told police.
Nielsen drove over bicycles and chairs belonging to the group, and a Yeti cooler. He hit one person who was trying to get away and hit another woman who fell to the ground and became pinned under his truck. Prosecutors said the Yeti cooler became lodged under the truck and prevented the car from traveling further and causing more damage. Despite that, Nielsen attempted to continue driving, prosecutors said.
There were two other victims in the truck’s path who were able to get away before being hit, prosecutors said.
Multiple witnesses attempted to remove Nielsen from his truck, and, at one point, he swung a knife at someone, scratching that person’s arm.
Another witness who was driving by stopped her car, ran over and retrieved Nielsen’s knife, keys and turned off his ignition, prosecutors said.
The first victim was treated on the scene and the second was treated at a hospital for heart injuries and later released, prosecutors said.
The woman who was hospitalized is traumatized by the incident, her friends said.
The attack on the boulevard wasn’t Nielsen’s first violent offense, prosecutors said. In 1989, he was charged with aggravated kidnapping after he and another man posed as police officers, pulled a man from his home and held him for ransom. He pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced to four years in prison.
He was also convicted of retail theft in 2012.
Nielsen was sentenced to a year in prison in 2000 after he was federally charged with extortion in 1994, according to the Tribune. Prosecutors accused Nielsen and his brother of running a loan-shark operation. Nielsen admitted to prosecutors he smashed a glass in the face of an escort-service operator who owed his brother money, the Tribune reported at the time.
Nielsen is scheduled to appear again in court May 10 in Skokie.
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