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A man allegedly enraged by “yuppies” is accused of plowing his truck into a crowd of Chicago picnickers last weekend, striking three and briefly trapping a fourth under his vehicle.
Shortly before his alleged rampage, Timothy Nielsen, 58, parked his truck alongside a man who was out watering his flowers on Saturday evening. A group of about 10 or 15 people were having a picnic nearby, and Nielsen allegedly complained to the man about “yuppies on the boulevard who are out with their dogs,” prosecutors said in court, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Watch what I’m going to do,” Nielsen allegedly told the witness before speeding off.
About 30 seconds later, the witness heard screams.
Prosecutors claim Nielsen gunned his vehicle toward the crowd of picnickers, who were on a grassy median strip, according to the Chicago Tribune. Clearing the curb on his second try, Nielsen allegedly crashed through the group’s bicycles and chairs, striking three victims and knocking a fourth to the ground.
The last victim, a 42-year-old woman, allegedly remained trapped under Nielsen’s truck as a cooler wedged underneath the vehicle, stopping the attack. Witnesses tried to pull Nielsen out of the vehicle, but he allegedly slashed at them with a knife, leaving one with a shallow cut, according to the Tribune.
Nielsen was finally disarmed by a woman who was driving with her granddaughter when she saw the incident, according to the Sun-Times. Making a quick U-turn, the woman drove back to the scene and ran to Nielsen’s vehicle, where she allegedly succeeded in taking the key from his ignition along with his knife.
Police soon arrived and immediately arrested Nielsen, while the woman who had been trapped under his truck was taken to a hospital. She was released the following morning, according to the Tribune.
Some Asian-American advocates have called for prosecutors to try this case as a hate crime, citing reports that Nielsen shouted anti-Asian remarks at one of the picnickers just before the attack, FOX 32 reports. However, prosecutors did not mention these claims in court.
Nielsen has previously been convicted of several felonies.
In 1989, he and an accomplice were found guilty of posing as police officers to kidnap a victim, who they beat and held for ransom in their garage, the Associated Press reports.
Five years later, Nielsen was found guilty of smashing a glass in the face of an escort service operator, causing head trauma and requiring the man to get five stitches, according to the Sun-Times.
And in 1999, Nielsen and his brother were found guilty of demanding enormous interest payments from two men who they loaned thousands of dollars to, enforcing their demands with threats and beatings, according to the newspaper.
Nielson has been charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to AP. He is being held without bond and his next court date is set for May 10, according to online inmate records.
It’s not clear if he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.
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