CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a scene of sheer terror overnight, two men accosted an 80-year-old Roman Catholic priest as he lay sleeping in his South Side rectory and brutally beat him.
As CBS 2′s Susanna Song reports, police say shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, the suspects broke into the rectory at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, at 9849 S. Throop St. in the Longwood Manor neighborhood, and found the Rev. Dan Mallette sleeping.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is a parishioner at the church, and was with Father Mallette since early Tuesday morning. He said Mallette was the victim of “a vicious, vicious assault.”
“He was completely taken by surprise,” Dart said. “He was sound asleep in his bed, and was awoken by two people standing there demanding money and threatening to kill him.”
Dart says Mallette was beaten severely, and suffered broken ribs and facial injuries.
As of Tuesday morning, Mallette was back home in his rectory after being treated and released from Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Police say the robbers did get away with some money.
In spite of the injuries, longtime friend and parishioner William Harris says Mallette is keeping his spirits up.
Still, Harris said, “He is in a lot of pain – a couple of broken ribs, stitches, black eyes – he was beaten pretty badly.”
Sheriff Dart considers Father Mallette more than a priest, and more than a friend. Mallette married Dart and his wife, baptized his kids and conducted his father’s funeral.
“He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life. It’s just so outrageous,” Dart said. “You don’t know where to start with this – the evil and the cowardice, I mean, in the middle of the night, attacking an 80-year-old man who’s sound of sleep in his bad – a man who frankly would give his shirt off his back, and does it all the time.”
Harris agreed that the attack was horrific, but he says the Father Mallette is all about forgiveness.
“It’s an outrage. The first feeling is a feeling of anger, but then the second feeling comes quickly about – how would Dan feel?” Harris said. “Dan would forgive these people, even though they did something that is totally unexplainable.”
On Tuesday morning, multiple parishioners made stops at the church to provide support and encouragement for Mallette.
Mallette has been a fixture at the church since 1977. He turned 80 just this past weekend.
Parishioners say he regularly visits prisons, serves communion at hospitals, says mass every day at 8:30 a.m., and maintains the schedule of a 40-year-old man.
Police are investigating, but no one was in custody as of 11 a.m.