By Aracely Hernandez - Staff Writer DeKALB - A Lockport native charged in the beating death of a high school soccer coach is now facing first-degree murder charges. Nathan E. Schrank, 21, a Northern Illinois University student, was initially charged with aggravated battery in the early Sunday morning attack of 25-year-old Luis Noriega outside a Greek Row bar. Authorities filed two counts of first-degree murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter and three additional counts of aggravated battery. He remains in DeKalb County Jail where bond was set at $250,000 but is now $500,000. Four counts of aggravated battery each also were filed against two men and a woman in the alleged attack of Noriega, a soccer coach at Indian Creek High School, and his friend Leonidas Stefanos. Bond is set at $100,000 for Christopher M. Tadder and Fred J. Jakob, both 22 and of Lockport. Emily J. Hobbs, 21, of Plainfield also was charged with aggravated battery even though she did not strike a blow. Bond is set at $50,000 for Hobbs. All four charged are NIU students. As of Friday afternoon, the university had not issued a statement on the charges. Police expected the three not in custody to surrender some time on Friday. The charges were announced at a press conference at City Hall by DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen and DeKalb County State's Attorney Ron Matekaitis. “There were some early reports that Mr. Noriega's death was a result of a fight," Matekaitis said. “The use of the word 'fight' would imply that the confrontation was mutual. In making the charging decision in this case, we believe this was an attack against Mr. Noriega where he was badly outnumbered and was struck by an individual who was physically superior in size. People make choices all of the time, and oftentimes the results of those choices are insignificant. The defendants in the case, and Mr. Schrank in particular, made choices to resort to violence. When violence is chosen to resolve issues, the possibility of significant injury or death will be present." According to Noriega's girlfriend, Callie Sears, who was with Noriega at the time of the attack, he was at Reilly's Bar and Eatery, 1215 Blackhawk Road, with her, Stefanos and another friend. Sears said that Noriega told her that around 1 a.m., a woman, later identified as Hobbs, complained to him that he had cut in front of her while getting a drink from the bar. Hobbs reportedly threatened Noriega and told him that he would meet her boyfriend later. When Noriega and his friends were leaving the bar around 2:10 a.m., Schrank, Hobbs, Tadder and Jakob surrounded them, according to authorities. “When we walked outside and saw those guys it was ridiculous how big they were," Sears said, noting that Luis was about 5 feet 6 inches tall. “The only thing Luis heard was 'Here's my boyfriend. What are you going to do?' and they all attacked him." Schrank shoved Noriega, and then Tadder and Jakob began kicking him, according to authorities. They also allegedly struck Stefanos, who was treated for injuries at a hospital. Each was charged with four counts of aggravated battery - two for allegedly striking Noriega and two for Stefanos. Aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine of $25,000. Sears said it appeared the altercation was over and Noriega got up when Schrank blindsided him by punching him in the chin. Noriega fell and hit his head on the concrete. He was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital and later airlifted to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he died from severe head injuries around 4 p.m. Sunday. “It is not our theory that Mr. Schrank intended to kill Mr. Noriega," Matekaitis said. But because Schrank participated in an act to commit “great bodily harm," he is responsible, Matekaitis said. When Schrank struck and pushed Noriega, it caused his death, the state's attorney said. First-degree murder is publishable by 20-60 years in prison. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony. Hobbs faces charges because she is accountable for the attack that caused Noriega's death, Matekaitis said. “I think it's a great thing that the (state's) attorney changed the wording from 'fight.' It was not; it was an attack," Sears said Friday. “Luis had no chance. ... It's very heartening and nice to know that justice is being served. But it doesn't bring him back." Aracely Hernandez can be reached at email@example.com.
Fundraiser planned to cover victim's medical bills
DeKALB - Family and friends of Luis Noriega are collecting donations to help offset his medical bills. Noriega, who died Sunday from head injuries he suffered in a beating, was first taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital and later airlifted to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford. Noriega's girlfriend, Callie Sears, said Noriega didn't have health insurance and his family is now burdened with costly medical bills. Sears also said Noriega's death has helped save other people's lives. “He's still here in that all of his organs have been given to people who needed them. He lives on like that,” she said. “We had just had that conversation two weeks ago, and he said that's what he wanted.” Memorials in Noriega's name can be sent to Bank of America, 705 Sutton Road, Streamwood, IL 60107. A local bar also is planning a fundraiser. According to an advertisement by Molly's Eatery and Drinkery, 1022 W. Lincoln Highway, the bar is planning on donating proceeds of sales to Noriega's family. Attempts to reach Molly's management on Friday were unsuccessful.