By The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Police are investigating a smoke bomb explosion that abruptly ended a birthday party celebration for Adolf Hitler at a banquet hall in Lyons, Ill., a party complete with a decorated cake and Nazi banners.
The suspect, a man with a backpack, had ordered a grilled cheese sandwich before he went into the restroom and set off the smoke bomb, authorities said Monday.
“The description we have to work off of is very vague,” Lyons Police Chief Harley Schinker said of the person responsible for the damage to P.J. Klem’s Restaurant & Banquets, on Saturday night.
Art Jones, chairman of the America First Committee, said he organized the party and that about 60 people attended. In addition to celebrating the 122nd anniversary of Hitler’s birth, which is April 20th, Jones said the group marked the start of the Civil War on April 12, 1861.
The party included two cakes, Jones said. One was decorated with the words, “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler.” The other bore the phrase, “The South Was Right. White Men Fight,” Jones said.
Police arrived at the restaurant and banquet hall about 6:15 p.m. Saturday after receiving a call about smoke, according to a police department news release.
The smoke bomb caused no serious damage or injuries but police evacuated and closed the restaurant to allow the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Bomb Squad to search the building, Lyons police said.
Pete Klemetzos, general manager of Klem’s, said he was unaware of the party’s specific purpose when it was scheduled several weeks ago.
The same group has rented the banquet hall in previous years and was holding a peaceful gathering, he added.
“There was no ‘Heil Hitler’ or anything like that,” Klemetzos said, although banners bearing swastikas were displayed.
“They didn’t wear uniforms. There were no outside demonstrations. A group came in and said they wanted me to cook for them — chicken, beef, sausage — and I didn’t ask them who they were.”
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