ONE YEAR LATER: From Capitol assault to deadly Des Plaines fire, 2021 got off to a rough start

  • Supporters of then-President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

    Supporters of then-President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Associated Press

  • Inverness resident Bradley Rukstales pleaded guilty to his role in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and was sentenced to 30 days in prison.

    Inverness resident Bradley Rukstales pleaded guilty to his role in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. Send2Press Newswire photo

 
 
Posted1/3/2022 5:30 AM

What a way to start the year.

With Americans already stressed out over the COVID-19 pandemic and strife stemming from the 2020 elections, the nation was further shocked just six days into 2021 by a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.

 

The chaos kicked off a month filled with more political turmoil, more coronavirus cases despite the vaccine rollout and tragedies that shook suburban residents.

Here's a look at some of the top news stories of January 2021 -- and what's happened with them since.

The Capitol assault

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by rioters supporting then-President Donald Trump surely will be remembered as one of the darkest days in American history. And suburbanites were witnesses, targets and participants.

The mob stormed the building while Congress was in session to confirm Joe Biden's presidential victory. U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield was among those forced to take shelter in the House chamber gallery as armed personnel held off the attackers.

Inverness resident Bradley Rukstales was a member of the mob and admitted participating in the violence. He was the first person from Illinois to be charged in the breach, the first to plead guilty and the first to be sentenced, receiving a 30-day prison term for his actions. Other Illinoisans have since followed suit.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Because of the riot, Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. Every member of the suburban delegation voted to impeach.

Still, Trump was spared by the U.S. Senate and finished his term as scheduled on Jan. 20.

Vaccination scramble

Vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus began to be administered for the first time in late 2020. By January, suburbanites were rushing to get their shots.

It was tough to get appointments at first. The vaccine supply couldn't match demand.

Now, more than 60% of state residents are fully vaccinated. Many are still choosing not to get the vaccine.

As the end of the year approached, more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed in Illinois, and the state's death toll since the pandemic began has topped 27,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Facing federal gambling-related charges, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in January and later won reelection.
Facing federal gambling-related charges, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in January and later won reelection.
Urlacher pardoned

Among the 73 people Trump pardoned during his final hours in office was Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher.

Urlacher -- the younger brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher -- had been indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2020 after authorities said he was part of an illegal sports gambling operation. Urlacher, whose famous brother visited Trump in the White House in March 2020, was the only one of 10 people charged in the case to receive a pardon.

When he was facing charges, Urlacher didn't file to run for a third term for mayor. But after being pardoned, Urlacher ran a write-in campaign and won in April.

A Jan. 27 fire in Des Plaines killed four children and their mother: Grace Espinosa, 2; Allison Espinosa, 3; Genesis Espinosa, 5; Renata Espinosa, 6; and mom Cithlaly Zamudio. The blaze started at least seven minutes before authorities received the first 911 call, a report later revealed.
A Jan. 27 fire in Des Plaines killed four children and their mother: Grace Espinosa, 2; Allison Espinosa, 3; Genesis Espinosa, 5; Renata Espinosa, 6; and mom Cithlaly Zamudio. The blaze started at least seven minutes before authorities received the first 911 call, a report later revealed. - courtesy of Violeta Gomez-Garcia
Des Plaines fire

The Des Plaines community was heartbroken Jan. 27 when a fire in an apartment building claimed the lives of Cithlaly Zamudio and her daughters: Renata Espinosa, 6; Genesis Espinosa, 5; Allison Espinosa, 3; and Grace Espinosa, 1.

From the start, firefighters suspected an electric space heater outside the family's second-floor apartment on Oakton Street was to blame.

Investigators determined the fire started there and trapped the family inside because the apartment didn't have a safe secondary exit.

A 43-page report released in March also revealed the fire started at least seven minutes before authorities received the first 911 call about the blaze. The building had no smoke detectors on the second floor, officials said.

In response, 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman said she'll propose requiring every rental property in the city to have alarms that are hooked up to the building's electrical system. The proposal has not yet surfaced.

Deadly bar fight

In the early hours of Jan. 24, Rolling Meadows resident Thomas B. Adamowski was badly beaten outside Rand Roadhouse in Des Plaines.

A police investigation revealed Adamowski and another man were involved in an argument that became physical.

At some point, a third man entered the fray and hit Adamowski in the head, police said, and Adamowski's head struck a wall. The pair continued to attack Adamowski until bar employees broke up the fight, police said.

The 34-year-old Adamowski died two days later at a Park Ridge hospital. But it was three months before anyone was charged with his death.

Zhanuzak Askarov and Ali Madadgar, both of Chicago, were charged in May with felony involuntary manslaughter in connection with the attack.

Police said they learned Askarov's and Madadgar's identities early in the investigation. Witnesses' reports conflicted, however, they said.

They are awaiting trial.

0 Comments
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.