The young man, about a head taller than his father, pointed over the older man’s shoulder as he described seeing the body of a stranger lying dead in the alley behind their home.
Police officers had found the man bleeding from gunshot wounds in the driver’s seat of a black car around 10:10 p.m. Monday in the 3400 block of West 61st Street. But when the young neighbor got home from work, the man had been placed on his back next to a car, he said.
The victim, later identified as 25-year-old Eugene Cooley, was shot in the throat, chin, back and arm, police said. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Cooley had no known gang affiliation, but he did have a gun conviction on his record, according to police and court records. Police said they had not found any witnesses to the shooting and did not provide a possible suspect.
A handful of neighbors came by the crime scene, expressing both fear and curiosity about the man killed in their usually quiet neighborhood in Chicago Lawn. No one knew who he was and, according to a police source, he did not live nearby.
Officers closed the alley lined with brick garages, tying yellow tape to trash and recycling bins on either side of the alley’s mouth at St. Louis Avenue and wrapping red tape around fence posts and cars closer to Cooley’’ body.
A detective walked from the inner crime scene, wheeling a blue recycling bin holding up police tape across the alley so he could drive through. He got out of his unmarked silver car and pushed the blue bin back, bringing the yellow tape taut again.
He asked father and son if his partner was still inside looking through their security videos. They showed another car driving by that could be the shooter’s, though they did not show the shooting itself, the son said.
“We helped the cops how we could,” the son said.
Footage from security cameras on the corner of their garage showed an SUV driving north up South St. Louis Avenue and passing the alley before backing up. Someone inside peered down the alley before turning the corner onto 61st Street, the son said.
“It looked like he wanted to box him in,” he said.
Two officers in a bright blue SUV pulled up next to the alley to talk to the father and son, also asking about the security video. The men walked up to the passenger side of the SUV and talked to the officers through the open window.
“Stay safe out there,” one of the officers called out as they drove away.
The family has lived on the block about 20 years, most of the son’s life, and he couldn’t remember any other murders, though their house was hit by a stray bullet once. Having served in the military and grown up in Chicago, he’s used to gunfire, he said: “You get kind of numb to it.”
A couple walked up to the edge of the crime scene, the woman carrying a brown paper grocery bag with two loaves of bread sticking out the top. She set the bag down on the sidewalk. Their daughter, who had heard several gunshots, was inside the alley talking to police. When she was finished, she walked toward her parents, ducking under the yellow tape to join them on the sidewalk.
Though she heard at least three or four gunshots, the woman said she didn’t see anything or realize anyone had been shot until about an hour later, when her brother told her.
Another couple wandered over, still new to the area from Queens, New York. The woman said they liked their new neighborhood so far but added: “We’re scared.”