Marine veteran, 73, dies after punched by carjackers. ‘This isn’t worth it. Someone needs this person in their life.’

Keith Cooper, a Vietnam veteran, had gone to a shopping strip in Hyde Park while running some errands when he was approached by two men who demanded his Hyundai SUV.

SHARE Marine veteran, 73, dies after punched by carjackers. ‘This isn’t worth it. Someone needs this person in their life.’

Keith Cooper


Keinika Carlton leaned against the steering wheel of her father’s SUV and bowed her head.

She was there to drive the car home, hours after carjackers punched and killed her father, Keith Cooper, at a small shopping plaza in Hyde Park Wednesday afternoon. The two had plans to see each other that day, Carlton said.

“This isn’t worth it. Someone loves this person, someone needs this person in their life,” she told reporters.

Cooper, 73 and a Vietnam veteran, had gone to the shopping strip in the 5300 Block of South Kimbark Avenue while running some errands about 12:35 p.m. when he was approached by two men, Chicago police said.

The men demanded his Hyundai SUV and punched him him in the head, police said. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where he died.

Fire officials said he suffered cardiac arrest after he was attacked. Two people were taken into custody but no charges have been announced.

Carlton said she was napping at home when she got a call from her older sister who told her something had happened and their father was at the hospital. Carlton rushed over to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she got the terrible news.

She said the attackers were scared off by bystanders, who stayed with her father and tried to keep him awake before paramedics got there.

Cooper served in the Marines and did two tours in Vietnam. He loved jazz, Star Trek and horror movies.

He was also an avid reader, the type of person who would read back labels, Carlton said. He would regularly send his daughter emails or texts with links to articles he’d seen online about different topics. “I’ll miss getting those.”

Carlton said she will remember her father for “his love, his support, his smile, him coming over for no reason.”

“I’ll remember his laugh. How he would love to tease me and his grandkids,” she said. “Like my daughter could have purple hair and he was like, ‘What’s that on your head?’ You know, stuff like that.”

Cooper was born and raised on the South Side. Carlton said that while her father didn’t root for a particular Chicago team, he would always have a game on the TV if one was playing.

Carlton said her father was an enterprising person who worked all sorts of jobs throughout his life, from a beer truck driver to working for the Illinois Lottery to most recently becoming a Lyft driver.

He loved to stay active and was a member of at least one bowling team, Carlton said. He volunteered at his church, Augustana Lutheran.

Carlton’s husband, Curtis Carlton, said Cooper “was like a bonus dad. He was my father-in-law, but he was like a dad. He was the best. Keith was the best.”

“It was two guys preying on a senior citizen,” he added. “I’m just wrestling with that. I can’t fathom it. I can’t understand why you would try to do that.”

Keinika Carlton said her father loved Hyde Park, and the community showed love to her father by staying by his side after the attack.

“I just hope that justice is served with the two young men,” she said. “And that they understand and realize, you know, you you took a life for a vehicle that you didn’t even get and it wasn’t worth it.”

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