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Man Charged With Punching Of Female Security Guard, Defended As 'Good Guy'

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 17, 2017 2:59PM

Matthew De Leon / Chicago Police Department
The man who sucker-punched a female security guard early on Mother's Day morning in River North—and outraged pretty much the entire city—has been charged after he surrendered to authorities on Tuesday, according to police and reports.

Matthew De Leon, 23, of Portage Park faces three felony counts of aggravated battery—in a public place, causing great bodily harm and to a peace office, Chicago police announced. De Leon was positively identified as the man who punched a 46-year-old female security guard in the 600 block of North Franklin Street at 2:15 a.m. on Sunday, according to police.

The arrest featured an unexpected wrinkle: prominent crisis responder and victim advocate Dawn Valenti spoke in measured support of De Leon on Tuesday.

"He is so remorseful. He's very remorseful. I mean, when I got out of the car and he approached me, his body language told me how remorseful, how sorry he was," Valenti said on Tuesday, according to CBS Chicago. De Leon is reportedly a family friend of Valenti although the two were not personally acquainted. Valenti called De Leon an "all-around good guy" who made a very bad decision while under the influence, CBS reports.

The incident caused an outpouring of indignation against the attacker and support for the victim in Chicago. Surveillance video shows the guard, Zoa Stigler, approach a man stretched out on the sidewalk against the condo building where Stigler works. She said she offered to help the man but then asked him to leave after he vomited. A few moments later, after Stigler is seen retrieving a mop bucket to clean up the man's mess, he throws water at her then punches her hard in the face.

"Why would you hit a human being in the face that is trying to assist you, trying to help you?" Stigler said, according to the Tribune.

A GoFundMe to assist Stigler with medical expenses was launched by Asad Khan, the president of the board at the condo building where Stigler works. As of Wednesday morning, the campaign has raised more than $20,000. Khan told the Trib that Stigler suffered a fractured eye socket and nose and will require surgery.

De Leon is due in bond court on Wednesday.