As flurries grew into the season’s first major winter storm, a 30-year-old man left his home in Hammond, Ind. and headed to his job plowing snow.
He drove a plow around Thornton, Illinois, from around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, when he said he was leaving to go plow and salt for a friend, a coworker said.
About a day later and 30 miles away, police found him on a street in Chicago early Tuesday, bleeding from at least three gunshot wounds, police said.
“What was he doing over there?” his sister kept asking as she sat in a car outside the emergency entrance of Stroger Hospital, where he was in critical condition. The man’s 3-year-old daughter, bundled in layers, was asleep in a car seat behind her aunt.
Officers responding to a call found the man around 12:15 a.m. in the 4900 block of West Huron Street, a few blocks east of Laramie in the South Austin neighborhood. He had been shot in the right cheek, the left hand and the back of the neck, a source said.
“I’m just like, sick to my stomach,” said the coworker, who has known him for about a year. “I can’t believe it… he’s a real hard worker, he’s a good guy.”
The man usually does concrete work for the company, and doesn’t have a snow plow for his personal truck, his coworker said.
The truck was still running on Huron Street, a one-way road. It was stopped between rows of parked cars, its lights on and the driver’s door open. Two-flats lined the residential street. Multicolored strands of Christmas lights filled the second-story windows of a building next to the truck, flashing on and off at slower intervals than the blue police lights.
Ice coated street signs, obscuring their names.
A neighbor drove up and parked on the block west of the crime scene. The man and two children, a boy and a girl, got out of the car and walked across the street toward a home, carrying McDonald’s bags and drink cups. They’d heard nothing about a shooting.
“Is someone dead?” the neighbor asked.
At the hospital, the man’s older sister said he had gone into surgery and was stabilized.
She got a call from her brother’s wife saying he’d been shot, then picked her up and drove to Stroger. She didn’t think her brother knew anyone in South Austin, and wondered why he was in the neighborhood and why he’d been shot.
He is her youngest brother and is still a “sweet, loving kid,” she said. Their parents are both dead, leaving behind six siblings, his sister said, swiping through family photos on her phone, everyone smiling around the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
While she waited in the car, a man she didn’t recognize walked out of the hospital and started yelling in her direction, threatening her, she said.
The man started jumping on the hood of a black sedan parked to her left, rocking the car back and forth. Two police officers came outside and confronted him. Eventually he left.