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Family pleads for justice at vigil for man beaten to death while putting up Christmas lights at Gage Park home

“He had a kind heart, and kindhearted people don’t deserve this,” said Daisy Torres, Jose Tellez’s niece, at the vigil Thursday evening.

A few dozen family, friends and community members gather for a vigil and memorial for Jose Tellez outside his Gage Park home on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. Tellez was beaten to death while he was hanging Christmas decorations last Saturday evening.
A few dozen family, friends and community members gather for a vigil and memorial for Jose Tellez outside his Gage Park home on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. Tellez was beaten to death while he was hanging Christmas decorations last Saturday evening.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A crowd of family members and neighbors gathered on the sidewalk in front of a home where 49-year-old Jose Tellez was beaten to death as he strung up Christmas lights last weekend in front of his home in Gage Park on the Southwest Side.

Survived by three children, 22, 16 and 14 years old, Tellez was described by his niece, Daisy Torres, as a hard worker who never hurt anyone.

Tellez was attacked by two people around 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the 3500 block of West 58th Street, according to Chicago police. A description of the suspects has not yet been released, police saying only that they were males, and a motive is unknown.

He was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died at 10:32 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

“He was someone you always relied on. He loved to dance and parties, and was a very funny person,” Torres said, addressing the crowd as she choked back tears. “He had a kind heart, and kindhearted people don’t deserve this.”

Before addressing the crowd, family members led neighbors in reciting the Hail Mary prayer, and some neighbors placed flowers and candles on the stoop of the home.

Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd) offered her condolences to the family and agreed that the attack must be a wake-up call.

“My heart is broken, but I am furious because there is a war going on in the streets of Chicago where criminals have no fear,” Tabares said. “I ask residents who may have any information to share that information with police so that we can hold these violent thugs accountable, and I demand that our state’s attorney Kim Foxx prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Enough is enough, we are tired of the excuses!”

Torres said, “Whoever did this, we want them behind bars.”