A Chicago deacon was found shot to death on the city's South Side Thursday morning in what police said was an attempted carjacking.
Willie Cooper, 74, was found in a vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds just before 5 a.m. in the 7000 block of South East End Avenue in the city’s South Shore neighborhood, police said.
"A co-worker's son heard Mr. Cooper -- Deacon Cooper -- say, 'Wait a minute! Wait a minute!' and then all of a sudden the rounds of gunfire went off," said St. Phillip Neri pastor Thomas Belanger.
Cooper was pronounced dead at the scene, officials with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said.
Belanger said Cooper had been a deacon at the church for more than 20 years, was a retired Chicago Transit Authority employee and also drove bus for Aries Charter Transportation.
"He always would preach reconciliation, forgiveness and truth and love," said Belanger, adding that he'll be remembered as a friend to the sick and the young men he mentored at the church's parish and school.
Belanger said that while there's no doubt Sunday's services will be filled with grief and anger, there will also be a strong sense of hope.
"We need to focus on what is it he left us. What message of hope did he instill in us, and are we going to use that to continue on Willie's mission [and] his ministry? And the answer is yes," said Belanger.
Police said Cooper was killed in an attempted carjacking following another shooting that killed a 41-year-old man just a few blocks away.
No one was in custody for the shooting as of Thursday afternoon.