Joseph Zens is an Illinois man who is accused of attacking a Hispanic motorcyclist with an ice pick and telling him to “go back” to his country after he cut off the biker while driving in Lake County. Authorities say the 57-year-old victim, who was flying a Mexican flag on his motorcycle, was not injured.
The 67-year-old Zens was arrested at his home in Gurnee, Illinois, and police say they found an ice pick in his Hyundai, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. The incident happened the morning of Wednesday, August, 14, the sheriff’s office said.
Zens, who was charged with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor aggravated assault, has been released from the Lake County Jail on bond, records show.
Here’s what you need to know about Joseph Larry Zens:
1. The Victim Was Able to Escape on His Motorcycle Before Being Hit With the Ice Pick as Zens Chased Him Yelling Racial Slurs & Expletives, Police Say
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call about 11:35 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14, from a victim who said he was assaulted with an ice pick during a traffic altercation, according to a press release.
“Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and learned the victim, a 57-year-old man of Unincorporated Gurnee, was traveling northbound on North Delany Road in the area of Sunset Avenue, in Unincorporated Gurnee, on his motorcycle,” the press release said. “The victim is Hispanic and was displaying the Mexican Flag on his motorcycle. As the victim was traveling northbound, the driver of a 2009 Hyundai SUV abruptly changed lanes, cutting-off the motorcycle driver.”
The motorcyclist said he tried to get the license plate number and vehicle description of the Hyundai, and the driver, later identified as Joseph Zens, of Gurnee, stopped on West Meyer Road and exited his car, according to police.
“Zens began yelling anti-Mexican racial slurs/expletives at the victim and told him to go back to his country. Zens then retrieved an ice pick from his vehicle and began chasing the victim with it, continuing to yell racial slurs and racial expletives,” the sheriff’s office said. “The victim was able to get onto his motorcycle and move away before being struck with the ice pick. The victim then called 911 for police assistance.”
The sheriff’s office added, “Sheriff’s Deputies spoke with Zens at his residence and located an ice pick in his Hyundai. He was arrested without incident and transported to the Lake County Jail.”
2. Zens Is an Illinois Native & the Owner of a Flooring Company in Waukegan
Joseph Zens, who goes by Larry Zens, is the owner of Larry Zens Flooring Services, based in Waukegan, Illinois, according to his Facebook page. Zens is an Illinois native who is originally from Waukegan, according to his Facebook page. He attended Waukegan Township High School and the College of Lake County.
Zens is married and has two children, a son and daughter. His Facebook page also shows that he is a bassist who has performed often in Lake County.
According to his Facebook page, Zens has owned his flooring company for several years. The company only has one review on Yelp, a negative one from June 2019.
“Don’t ever do business with this con artist! I had a floor quote for less than $1000 from 2 contractors. He started out very nice on phone and actually visited the job site within the hour and said ready to install within 3 days. I asked for a written proposal so I could submit to my company for authorization and he said would email it to me,” the reviewer wrote. “The day before I needed the work done he quoted me $2300 for the labor and said he would get me the material cost IF I FIRST AGREED on the labor. As the work he proposed was getting close to $3000 I politely asked questions to perhaps understand what he saw that I was missing. Then out of the blue he said “F— you” and hangs up. Since a mutual friend referred him and claims he is a great floor man there is something more going on to be concerned with. I would highly recommend staying clear of this person and feel I was trying to be taken advantage of.”
3. The Sheriff & State’s Atotney Say ‘Hate’ & ‘Hateful’ Conduct ‘Will Never Be Tolerated’ in Lake County
“This type of hateful conduct will never be tolerated in Lake County,” said Michael Nerheim, the Lake County State’s Attorney.
“Hate has absolutely no place in Lake County,” Sheriff John Idleburg said in a statement. “Being victimized because of the color of one’s skin, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected classification is completely unacceptable. We will always be there to stand up for the victims of crime.”
Zens does not appear to have any other charges on his criminal record in Illinois.
4. He Faces Up to 3 Years in Prison on the Hate Crime Charge & 1 Year in Jail on the Assault Charge
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release, “After reviewing the facts of the case, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim approved charging Zens with a felony hate crime. If found guilty at trial, Zens could be sentenced up to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Nerheim also approved a charge of misdemeanor aggravated assault. If found guilty of the class A misdemeanor at trial, Zens could be sentenced up to one year in Lake County Jail.”
The sheriff’s office added, “All suspects are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.”
5. Zens Is Free on $15,000 Bail & Is Scheduled to Make His Next Court Appearance on August 28
Joseph Zens is free on $15,000 bail, according to Lake County Jail records. It is not clear when he was released. Zens is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on August 28.
Zens could not be reached for comment by Heavy. It is not clear if he has hired an attorney who could comment on his behalf. The victim has not been identified and has not commented publicly about the incident.