Friends Mourn Death of Man, 73, Fatally Shot on South Side

The shooting happened in the 6800 block of South East End Avenue.

By Emily Florez
|  Saturday, Oct 13, 2012  |  Updated 9:32 PM CDT
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William Thomas, 73, was fatally shot in the head while sitting on a porch. NBC 5 Emily Florez reports from his neighborhood where friends are heartbroken over his death and concerned over the violence.

William Thomas, 73, was fatally shot in the head while sitting on a porch. NBC 5 Emily Florez reports from his neighborhood where friends are heartbroken over his death and concerned over the violence.

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Neighbors and friends are heartbroken over the death of 73-year-old William Thomas, who was fatally shot Friday night.

"He bothered nobody," said neighbor Kimberly Banks, who was also Thomas' friend. "He helped you. He could give you the shirt off his back."

Thomas was shot in the back of the head while sitting on a porch in the 6800 block of South East End Avenue around 7:15 p.m., according to police

"I was in the house with my baby and I heard six to eight shots ring out," said neighbor Natasha Stewart who found Thomas face-down with a gunshot wound in the back of his head.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

All of Thomas' neighbors described him as someone who had lived in the neighborhood for a long time.

"Lots of people know him for over 40 years," said neighbor Sylvia Brooks. "I've known him probably 22 years."

Residents say the strip or mall area is a place where outsiders come congregate. Calling it a camp ground for crime where heavy drug activity, gambling, and violence take place.

"I can't take it no more," said Brooks. "DO I gotta die because I'm talking and nobody want to talk?"

Alderman Leslie Hairston said the area is not being overlooked, adding that a proposal has been made to remove the mall area and open the street so law enforcement has easier access.

"Its unfortunate that it takes something of this magnitude a tragic loss as this," said Hairston. "But I am asking the mayor to have his superintendent and department of transportation to move swiftly on these issues."

To help with the problem now, residents said they are sending around a petition to at least add lights in the area.

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