Teen Whose Dad Died Shielding Her: ‘I Am Going to Make Him Proud’

Michael Tingling was looking forward to his daughter’s graduation this spring. 

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Michael Tingling

NBC Chicago

“I am going to make him proud,” Masharah Tingling told the Chicago Tribune after her father, Michael Tingling, died Wednesday protecting her from an ex-convict during a sidewalk confrontation on the city’s North Side.

Her father was looking forward to the eighth-grader's graduation this spring from Chicago Math and Science Academy, said a friend, Carmen Preister. 

Preister told the Tribune that Tingling would tell neighbors, thumping his chest, “My girl is going to graduate. It won't be the same around here anymore.”

Masharah said her father’s death has bolstered her plans to become a veterinarian.

“My dad always encouraged me to believe in my dreams,” she told the Tribune. “I am going to make him proud.”

Earlier:

A Chicago man has been arrested and charged with murder and a hate crime in connection with a sidewalk altercation that led to the death of a man who was trying to protect his daughter, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Joseph Firek, 59, who police say has a long criminal record, reportedly leered at Michael Tingling’s 15-year-old daughter, Masharah, as the father and daughter walked home from her school about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Tribune said Tingling pulled his daughter behind him when Firek stopped in their path and asked, “What, (N-word)?”

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Joseph Firek

Chicago Police Department

Assistant state’s attorney Rita Infelise said in court that Firek then punched Tingling, 59, in the chest. Tingling pushed him, she said, and Firek punched him again in the chest. The two exchanged blows before a passerby tried to separate them, but Firek continued to hit Tingling, the report says.

Tingling’s daughter called 911, and Tingling was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest, according to prosecutors. He was pronounced dead less than an hour later at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill.

According to the Cook County medical examiner's office, Tingling died of heart disease and from stress due to an altercation.

Tingling's family said he was a native of Belize and had been a boxer there in his youth. He had diabetes and heart disease and wore a cardiac pacemaker, they said.

Firek has an extensive criminal record dating to 1996. His record includes stints in prison for burglary and theft convictions. His attorney said he receives disability benefits for black lung disease, emphysema and psychiatric illness. Firek also was receiving outpatient psychiatric treatment, his attorney said.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.