Bloody campaign trail in IL 4th District State Rep race: Zwolinski vs Soto


Zwolinski speaks to the media on Monday afternoon

Less than 15 hours from having his nose broken and his forehead impaled with a staple from a staple gun in front of his campaign office for 4th District Illinois House of Representatives, 823 N. Ashland, Robert Zwolinski was facing an impromptu press conference, Mon., Mar. 7.

At his feet was a trail of dried blood spots from the office door, south to a large pooling area. 

By then, attorney Frank Avila Jr. was representing the man and woman who delivered the beating and stapling. The two are volunteers for incumbent Cynthia Soto, who is making another bid to retain the 4th District seat she initially garnered in 2001. 

Avila was publicly claiming that Zwolinski jumped out of his car and attacked his clients. According to him, they are considering filing charges. He went as far as to say that Zwoliniski could have stapled his own head. 


Zwolinski's Ashland Ave. office is on the line between Noble Square and East Village in the West Town community.

The altercation
Returning to his campaign headquarters around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday with his girl friend Megan Dunworth, Zwoliniski parked  around the corner on Fry. A dark car was parked on Ashland at the corner in front of his office. He noticed two people stapling Soto signs on an Ashland Ave. door front next to his campaign headquarters building. "I walked toward the guy and said, 'Hey what are you doing, this is my office.' But he immediately started forearming me.' I said, 'Come on don't…what is the point?' 

"The female assailant really escalated going after me on my back right shoulder. That turned him into punching, punching, punching mode. She then took the stapler that they were using on the posters and stapled my forehead. 

"While I was laying on the ground in a puddle of blood, my girlfriend was in the car on Fry so she could not see me. The female went and opened her door (passenger seat) and said to get out of the car as she yelled foul language at her and pointed a staple gun at her. 

"Megan had no idea what was going on. She immediately got out of the car and ran around the corner and saw me." 


Zwolinski on Sunday

Zwolinski went on to explain that a family had seen what was happening and they were hollering and honking. "Police officers were on the scene in less than one minute, the [northbound] assailants and the [southbound] police passed each other on Ashland. I was bleeding but coherent." 

Zwolinski was later treated at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center where he got six stitches as a result of the staple in his forehead. 

One of three people working in the campaign headquarters Sunday night was Keon who works on Judge  Anna Maria Loftus' and Zwolinski's campaigns. He explained, to this reporter, that he heard a commotion outside and he ran to the window and looked out. 

"To my right, I saw a young lady with an unidentified weapon in her hand pointed towards Bobby's girlfriend. I immediately went out and looked to my left and saw Bobby standing there just drenched with blood. My heart was beating extra fast. 

"When the girl saw me, she went to the guy and they got into a car and drove off up Ashland. Bobby was woozy but he made it inside the office. He said, 'look at the plates' and I got the number." 

That number is what led to the police locating the man and woman. 


Zwolinski workers are Pierre Mangun, Keon and Rashad Jackson

Campaign workers
Rashad Jackson, another Zwolinski worker, was called about midnight by the candidate. Jackson, who is up from college said, "Bob is one of the nicest guys you can know. He talks to everybody. It hurt my heart to hear what happened. 

"He does a lot for the community like hosting events and tries to send us young men and women to college. He founded the Wells High School rugby team. He's been doing some pretty big things." 

Graduate of Wells, Pierre Mangun is another worker for Zwolinski. He said that  he didn't play on the rugby team because he preferred lacrosse, but he confirmed that Zwolinski has been doing good things for kids in the neighborhood. 

Monday press conference
During the Monday afternoon press conference, Zwolinski was asked about Soto's role in the attack. 

"I don't believe that she sent out a hit squad, but what I do believe is that you are in charge of your staff," he replied. "But I have not spoken with her." 

One of the campaign workers said to this reporter before the press conference that "Soto told us that anybody working with her or for her is a family or close friend." 

Another rumor surfaced that Zwolinski has gang members working for him. Zwolinski looked stunned. "Why would anyone say that? No, no gang members." 


Zwolinski talks to the press with NBC's Charlie Wojciechowski on the right

Charlie Wojciechowski of NBC News indicated that there are allegations, apparently from Avila, "That the timing of this is a week before the election and that it raises your profile in the election." 

"I'd rather not have a staple in my head or a broken nose during the last final stages of the campaign. I don't like walking around with the Frankenstein look," responded Zwolinski. "These are the games they have been playing for years in the old regime." 

With security cameras in the area, including on the campaign headquarters building, Chicago Police detectives are working the case. 

Zwolinski and Soto are expected to be at the Thursday night event being put on by Chicago Grand Neighbors Association, East Village Association and the West Town Neighbors Association.



Great story

Thank you, Elaine, for taking the time to put together a well-reported, cogent story. Most of the other stories out there on this have been convoluted at best.

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