Store clerk, robber fatally shoot each other during South Shore hold-up: police
A robbery near 73rd Street and Coles Avenue ended with two men dead, including the suspect and a concealed carry license holder who tried to stop it, police said.
A would-be robber and a clerk who tried to stop the hold-up fatally shot each other Friday night inside a South Shore neighborhood grocery store, police said.
The exchange of gunfire started shortly after 6:20 p.m., when Nicholas Williams walked into the El Barakah Supermarket near 73rd Street and Coles Avenue and showed a handgun, according to Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
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Williams, 24, shot Ali Hasan, a 63-year-old worker at the store, in the chest and back, authorities said.
Hasan, who had a Firearm Owner’s Identification card with a concealed carry license, then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired back, authorities said, hitting Williams in the chest.
The younger man, who lived in the neighborhood, ran from the store but collapsed about a block away and died, authorities said.
Hasan, a Palestinian immigrant who lived in Berwyn, was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center. He died there within the hour, authorities said.
Investigators recovered three guns at the scene — Hasan’s and Williams’, as well as another behind the counter.
Police initially said an unarmed bystander was wounded in the gunfire, but later corrected their account. There was another witness inside the store who wasn’t hurt, police said Saturday.
Hasan’s sister-in-law, who answered the door at his Berwyn home, said he leaves behind five children ranging in age from 10 to 22. She and other relatives declined to speak further with a reporter Saturday afternoon.
Another person who knew Hasan described him as a “family man who made endless sacrifices, and one of the most kind individuals you could meet.” The person, who didn’t want to be identified, said Hasan cared for his parents until they died.
The supermarket, which is on the ground floor of an apartment building, remained shuttered the morning after the gun fight.
A man who has lived in the building for 40 years said he quickly became a regular at the store when it opened about 30 years ago. He said he’d stop by most mornings for coffee and a quick chat with Hasan before work, and then return some nights in his pajamas for snacks.
The man, who didn’t want to be identified, said he’d been in the store just moments before the attempted robbery. He said he heard the gunshots when he got off the elevator at his floor.
“I told [Hasan] I’d see him tomorrow,” he said.
The man said Hasan had just returned from an overseas vacation visiting family, though he’d still been a presence in the store through video calls while other family members worked in the store.
“They’re good people. They don’t cause no problems. He was a real cool guy,” he said. “He did not have that coming. He did not deserve to leave here like that.”
Besides the tragic loss of Hasan’s life, the man said he’s concerned about the future of the store in an area without many options for groceries.
“That’s our little neighborhood grocery store,” he said. “Once they’re closed down, how far are we gonna have to go to get stuff?”
Another man, who lives on the 7200 block of South Coles Avenue where Williams collapsed, said the neighborhood is generally “quiet” and full of “working people.”
“There’s lots of riffraff around here but nothing ever on this block,” said that man, who didn’t want to share his name.
Detectives were still investigating Saturday.