Cypruss Harris — who moved to Kentucky to escape the violence in his hometown — was back in Chicago last week to celebrate a friend’s birthday when he was murdered during an attempted robbery, friends and prosecutors said Tuesday.
Harris, 33, was shot about 2:45 a.m. Thursday at the Presidential Inn motel, 3922 S. Harlem Ave. in Lyons, according to village spokesman Ray Hanania.
Jonathan Yates, 27, of Willowbrook, and Oshen Wells, 18, of Aurora, were subsequently charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting, officials said.
Bail was denied for both during a hearing late last week at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, according to court records.
Rushette Campbell, a friend of Harris who was with him when he was shot, said in an interview that Yates and Wells were attempting to rob Harris when the gunfire erupted.
Campbell, 28, said Harris was in town to celebrate her birthday. They were hanging out in a room at the motel when Harris called Wells, a mutual friend, to join them.
Video surveillance at the motel recorded a white SUV as it pulled into the parking lot at the motel and dropped off Wells prior to the shooting, according to Cook County prosecutors. A short time later, the SUV returned and Yates was seen getting out of the vehicle and walking toward the room, prosecutors said.
The next time Yates and Wells were seen on video surveillance they were running back to the SUV and speeding away, prosecutors said.
According to Campbell, when Yates entered the motel room he was armed with a gun and tried to rob Harris. Harris pulled his own gun and shots were fired by both men.
Harris was struck multiple times and Yates suffered a graze wound in the shooting, she said.
Hanania confirmed Campbell was a witness to the shooting, but did not provide additional information.
Prosecutors said Yates sought treatment for the wound at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. The white SUV seen on surveillance footage was found to be registered to the same address Yates had used for his parole last summer.
Illinois Department of Corrections records show Yates was released from prison in June after serving time on a drug charge.
Leaving the next day
Wells gave a statement to police and admitted she called Yates to the motel room so they could rob Harris, prosecutors said.
Officials declined to say if either gun used in the shooting had been recovered.
Campbell described Harris as a father and an “all-around good person” who had moved to Kentucky from the Chicago area a few years ago to get away from the city’s gun violence.
“He was leaving the next day,” Campbell said through tears during a phone interview. “His whole purpose was to come see me. I begged him to come see me for my birthday.”