ROGERS PARK — The friends of Michael Davis, who was brutally beaten with a baseball bat and metal pipe in June steps from his home, felt "relief" and "vindication" after two men were arrested and charged Tuesday with the crime.
Davis had helped toss out the two suspects — Anthony Rudon, 50, and Tremaine Gallimore, 21 — from neighborhood pub Poitin Stil, at 1502 W. Jarvis Ave., after they allegedly caused trouble while playing pool in June.
They waited for Davis to leave, then ambushed him steps away from his nearby home on Jarvis Avenue, beating him with a baseball bat and metal pipe, prosecutors say.
The 44-year-old suffered a fractured jaw and broken teeth, swelling of his brain, nerve damage on his right side and partial paralysis.
He spent a month in intensive care at St. Francis Hospital before being transferred to a long-term care facility in Des Plaines, then to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Streeterville.
Rudon and Gallimore were charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery after a witness spotted Gallimore at a Rogers Park laundromat and called police, according to prosecutors.
The suspects were arrested by a Chicago Police Department fugitive task force, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Davis' friends rejoiced after hearing about the arrests.
"You felt relief, you felt justice — vindication," said Sarah Poisl, 35, who sipped on a beer and shot glass of whiskey after work Tuesday evening at the pub, which regulars call "The Stil."
She wore a "Michael Davis Life Fund" T-shirt, sold at the bar for $20 to raise money for Davis' medical care. (So far, 250 have been sold.)
Six days before the attack, Davis, who was bartending, had walked Poisl home from the bar to make sure she got home safely.
"That's the guy Mike is," she said. "It's always the bright spot of my day to see him. He's such a fighter. He's a force to be reckoned with."
Witnesses said Davis stepped in to break up a fight between the suspects and another bar patron who had been pushed from his chair.
The suspects accused Davis, who is black, of standing up for the "white man" and that he was an "Uncle Tom," witnesses said.
The Stil's owner, Ted Ries, said he heard the commotion while in his apartment above the bar at the time, but didn't think it would escalate to violence at a pub where patrons not only know one another, but also each other's dogs, who walk freely inside.
"I felt bad for Mike. It was terrible what happened," said 40-year-old Ries. "Nothing that happened here could justify it. Nothing could ever justify it — You got thrown out of a bar and you beat someone half to death?"
Bobbie, who only wished to be identified by his first name, said he saw the alleged attackers fleeing down an alleyway near where Davis was beaten on June 17.
"I was worried he was going to die," he said, after seeing a dent in Davis' head that he thought was caused by the beating.
The two suspects live less than a half-mile from the scene of the crime in different apartment buildings in the 7600 block of North Sheridan Road, according to prosecutors.
Since the beating, friends and family have raised more than $50,000 for Davis in a series of fundraisers and benefits.
Tony Lonien, 31, who was bartending Tuesday night at the Stil, auctioned off the privilege of shaving his head and beard to the highest bidder at a fundraiser earlier this month at the Mayne Stage.
His hair went for $700, while the beard fetched another $750.
"His family was giving me hugs [and thanking me], but I really didn't do anything," he said.
A regular, also wearing a Michael Davis T-shirt, chimed in: "Those guys don't deserve to walk the street."
"No, they deserve to be locked away," said another patron, a friend of Davis who identified himself as Greg. "Teach 'em how to make license plates for the rest of their lives."
Davis, when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, said he would likely be discharged this week and go home for the first time in more than two months.
Officials told him he'd testify in court soon.
"They're going to be in jail for long time," he said.
Erin Meyer contributed to this report.