Racine police say the man who cut another man’s face during an altercation last month walked away from a halfway house in Illinois and had a warrant for his arrest through the U.S. Marshals office.

Willie Ward, 36, of Racine, was charged Friday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count of 1st degree reckless injury and one felony count of aggravated battery. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $150,000 in fines.

According to the criminal complaint, police were called to Wheaton Franciscan St. Mary’s emergency room in the early morning hours of May 15 for a report of a man who took himself to the hospital after suffering an injury to his face. The man told police that at 1:25 a.m. May 14 at King Daddy’s Bar, 1333 Douglas Avenue, he was in an altercation with a man named Will – later identified as Ward – and was struck in the face.

Police say the man’s injury was serious – the laceration to his upper lip went through flesh and all the way to the bone, requiring at least 10 stitches. Doctors told officers the man was cut with a sharp, cutting instrument. The man told officers that Ward – who he described as tall and skinny – entered the bar and went around shaking everyone’s hand before taking a seat near the man. When the man started talking to another patron, he glanced at Ward, and the defendant told the man to “get the (expletive) out of my face.”

The man told officers he thought Ward might be upset because the man hadn’t shaken his hand so the man extended his hand and greeted Ward, the complaint reads. Instead of shaking his hand, Ward instead started yelling in the man’s face, and when the man turned to walk away, Ward struck the man in the face. The man realized he was bleeding, but he didn’t know what he’d been struck with so he went the bathroom to clean up.

Officers say they felt confident that Ward was the man they were looking for in connection with the cutting incident so they arranged a photo lineup with the man who was injured. He identified Ward as the man who assaulted him.

Investigators discovered that Ward was released last November from federal custody, and in March walked away from the halfway house where he was assigned, the complaint reads. An active warrant for his arrest was issued by the U.S. Marshals office.

Charges against Ward were filed June 12, and a warrant for $50,000 was issued for his arrest.

Ward was in custody Friday for his initial appearance, and he remains in the Racine County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond. He was ordered to surrender a sample of his DNA for the state database and will be back in court June 25 for his preliminary hearing.

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