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posted: 1/13/2010 12:01 AM

Lombard man killed while fleeing police had troubled past

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  • Dan Mojziszek, in 2009.

      Dan Mojziszek, in 2009.

 
 

Dan Mojziszek was a college-educated musician who taught his craft to children while raising a young son with his wife in the suburbs.

But, after years of chronic mental health, substance abuse and legal problems, the Lombard man's life ended in a hail of bullets during a final run-in with police.

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Police said they opened fire on Mojziszek, 52, late Monday when he tried to run down officers following a low-speed chase that began in Franklin Park. DuPage County Coroner Pete Siekmann said a Tuesday autopsy confirmed Mojziszek was shot twice.

A review of public records revealed the downward spiral of a life once filled with promise.

Mojziszek grew up in Franklin Park, where he was a 1975 East Leyden High School graduate who went on to receive high grades while pursuing his bachelor's degree in music education at Elmhurst College. He graduated in 1981.

The gifted musician, who played piano and trumpet, later worked as a Carol Stream School District 93 band director for about 15 years until 1999 and continued giving private lessons to children afterward, according to court records.

But, by then, Mojziszek's problems already began to catch up with him.

He hasn't had a valid driver's license since 1991, state officials said. They said the motorist was convicted of drunken driving five times since 1986 and racked up more than one half dozen arrests for driving on a revoked or suspended license. Mojziszek also had two convictions for fleeing police, in Elmhurst in 2003 and Villa Park in 2005 - the latter of which police accused him of speeding 71 in a 30 mph zone, records showed.

In fact, Mojziszek was just paroled Nov. 6, 2009, after serving part of a five-year prison term for illegally driving in 2007. It was his fifth imprisonment for driving offenses since 2000. Prosecutors fought his early release last year.

"The defendant is a risk to the public," wrote Anne Therieau, an assistant DuPage County state's attorney in a March 30, 2009 court filing.

His wife, Patty Ann, ended their nearly 10-year marriage in 2000 but she often let him stay with her and their son. In 2005, she sought an emergency protective order against Mojziszek - diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with psychotic behavior.

"When he does not take his medications, he hallucinates," she wrote in the Sept. 2, 2005 court petition. "He talks about the FBI, aliens, he does unusual things in the house, destroys things, like the computer, and turns the television and circuit breakers on and off all night."

Mojziszek also was repeatedly hospitalized, most often at the Elgin Mental Health Center, court records showed. In 2000, when admitted after fighting with neighbors, he wrote: "I wrote Psalm 131. They are my followers. They worship me. I am insurance," records said.

Later that same year, when readmitted after police said they found him wandering outside aimlessly, Mojziszek told the Elgin staff he was there to "save the world." He was admitted two more times to the mental health center in 2000 to 2002 and was repeatedly found unfit to stand trial for his traffic-related offenses.

"The FBI is shooting lasers into my house and my neighbors are witnesses," he claimed in one court record. He also accused the FBI of writing "voodoo messages" on his walls and possessing his wife's body. Besides his mental health problems, Mojziszek admitted in court records to having a long history of abusing his medication, alcohol and cocaine.

His final police encounter began at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Officers said they tried to stop the motorist for erratic driving on Mannheim Road near Grand Avenue in Franklin Park.

Officers chased Mojziszek south as he changed from the center lane to the curb lane and drove into oncoming traffic, "repeatedly endangering" other motorists, police said in a statement. They said Mojziszek repeatedly tried to hit police squads and ignored sirens and flashing emergency lights as the "slow-speed" pursuit continued through neighboring towns.

An officer T-boned Mojziszek's car in Northlake. Police said the motorist ignored their verbal commands and, after they surrounded his car and tried to move in, he put his car in gear. Police opened fire. Mojziszek was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

A witness, Nicholas Chrysler, questioned whether Mojziszek attempted to strike officers as accused. Chrysler said police appeared to open fire within seconds of exiting their squads.

A police sergeant who suffered a wounded hand after getting caught in crossfire was not seriously injured. The Illinois State Police is investigating the shooting to ensure officers followed appropriate procedure.

ABC Channel 7 contributed to this report.

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