CHICAGO — Dina Paterimos was devastated when she heard her little brother was killed outside a Chicago bar over the weekend. Then it got worse.
On Monday, police released without charges a man witnesses said repeatedly stabbed and slashed Kenneth Paterimos, 23, at Richard’s Bar in the West Town neighborhood late Friday night. The man claimed self-defense, though there is nothing in police reports indicating Paterimos was armed. Some witnesses told police the man had earlier yelled a homophobic slur at Paterimos, who was gay.
“You want to think something like that can’t happen,” Dina Paterimos told the Chicago Tribune. “When something like this happens, you want it to be brought to justice.”
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the case remains under investigation. “The individual taken into custody presented a self-defense claim,” he said. “So he’s been released and we’re now working to corroborate the timeline and the chronology of events that he gave us.”
Paterimos, who worked as a barista, was stabbed about 11:20 p.m. Friday outside the bar. A police source said a 30-year-old man who appeared intoxicated shouted a gay slur at Paterimos, which led to an argument and a scuffle inside the bar.
A bouncer kicked out the 30-year-old and Paterimos later walked outside to smoke a cigarette. The man confronted Paterimos, pulled out a box cutter and slashed Paterimos eight times: once to the left ear, three times to the back of the head, twice to the right arm, once to the chest and one to the collarbone, according to a police report.
Paterimos’ brother and others outside the bar held the man until officers arrived, police said. The box cutter was found under a parked car nearby.
“The detective said my brother is a hero because they would’ve never found this guy otherwise,” Dina Paterimos said. “I think he showed some restraint, really, you know he tackled him and held him for police. It’s heroic what he did. I mean, the guy had a knife.”
She finds the self-defense claim hard to believe.
“I couldn’t imagine someone being so threatened by him that they had to pull a knife out on him,” she said. “This is the guy who called me when he went over 100 pounds because his whole life he didn’t even weigh 100 pounds.
“He never got into fights or started stuff with people,” Paterimos said. “My brother would joke with you before he would start a fight with you. It’s such a shock that someone could hurt my brother like that.”
Guglielmi stressed that charges could still be filed.
“We just normally have 48 hours under the law to question individuals and then, depending on how those interrogations go, information is obtained and shared and now we have to corroborate what he told us,” he said. “And if everything is factual the way he describes it, then he could have a self-defense claim. And if not, he could face charges.”
Guglielmi said the continuing investigation will rely on additional witnesses and any surveillance video detectives turn up. He said he could not elaborate on what the 30-year-old man told investigators happened, or why he needed to defend himself with a box cutter.
Asked whether the case could be classified as a hate crime, Guglielmi said it was too early to say. “Anything is possible and I can’t really speculate on where this could go,” he said in an email.
Paterimos said her brother “was out and he was proud. … I was one of the first people that he told because he knew I would love him no matter what.”
Dina Paterimos is the only girl out of five children, she said. Kenneth was the second-youngest child, after her. As adults, he was like the glue of the family, making sure they all stayed in touch and got together. “He was so supportive of everything any of us have done. It’s almost like he was our hype man,” she said.
When she learned she had a rare, noncancerous brain tumor, he visited her in the hospital virtually every day. And he was sure to bring her treats from work, such as an iced coffee or macaroons, she said.
Because of the tumor, she had a stroke. At one point, doctors worried her condition may begin to affect her vision. It was a scary time, but her brother managed to put her at ease.
“He was the first one who was like, ‘We can always pick out eye patches,’ to make me feel better,” Paterimos said with a laugh. “He showed me pictures of bedazzled eye patches. He made the doctors, nurses, everyone laugh.
“He lived his life to the fullest. He was one of those people where when you met him, he could make you laugh nonstop and you wanted to be his friend. He has this essence that just made you happy, he lit up the room,” she said.
Paterimos said her brother had been working nonstop since high school to help the family financially, and they now worry about being able to pay for his burial. His mother, Diona Paterimos, has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the cost.
“What should have been a night out on the town with friends turned into tragedy. Words cannot express the tragic nightmare I have been living,” she wrote. “To lose a person at such a young age is not easy … I never thought I would have to bury my child.”
(Chicago Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol, Alice Yin and Paige Fry contributed to this report.)
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