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Army vet held without bail in South Loop murder

Robert Burgess | Chicago Police

An Army veteran was ordered held without bail Tuesday for allegedly shooting a man to death during a robbery attempt in the South Loop over the weekend.

Police were able to track 56-year-old Robert Burgess by watching surveillance video of him holding a semi-automatic gun and fleeing in a dark-colored Hyundai while wearing a Devin Hester Bears jersey, blue shorts and white gym shoes, Cook County prosecutors said.

Burgess first saw William Charles Smith walking by himself in the 1800 block of South Michigan on Sunday morning, Assistant State’s Attorney Elena Gottreich said. After observing that Smith, 45, was alone, Burgess drove up in his Hyundai, pointed a .45-caliber gun at Smith and demanded money, Gottreich said.

The pair got into an “altercation” during which Burgess shot Smith in the head, Gottreich said.

Smith had just left his residence, in the the 1900 block of South Indiana, when he was shot, prosecutors said.

Burgess fled, but investigators saw him and his license plate on surveillance footage, Gottreich said.

Once police tracked down Burgess’ Hyundai outside his South Side building, they looked inside and found the weapon, Gottreich said.

Preliminary examination showed the gun fired the casing that was recovered near Smith’s body, Gottreich said.

Police also found the Devin Hester jersey, blue shorts and white gym shoes inside Burgess’ residence, in the 6200 block of South Kimbark, Gottreich said.

The shorts and shirt were damp, hanging near a bottle of dish soap, Gottreich said.

Logs show Burgess had signed out of his building at 9:06 a.m. and came back at 10:24 a.m., Gottreich said.

Smith was shot about 10 a.m., according to authorities.

Burgess also was seen on video carrying the Devin Hester jersey in his hands as he came home, Gottreich said.

He later told police he carried the shirt because it was covered in blood and that he didn’t want anyone to see, Gottreich said.

Burgess also admitted he tried to wash Smith’s blood off the jersey with the dish soap after shooting him during the attempted robbery, Gottreich said.

Burgess was charged with first-degree murder. He has a 1980 conviction for conspiracy to commit murder, prosecutors said.

Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler said Burgess, who went to Simeon High School, served in the Army for two years. The married father of three works for U.S. Messenger and had previously worked as a truck driver, Koehler said.