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Retired prison guard dies after robbery: ‘Was it worth it?’ son asks attackers

Retired correctional officer Keith Chamble died a week after being beaten in a robbery in Hazel Crest. | Facebook

Retired correctional officer Keith Chamble died a week after being beaten in a robbery in Hazel Crest. | Facebook

The family of an Army veteran and retired correctional officer — who died Tuesday, nearly a week after he was beaten during a robbery outside his home in south suburban Hazel Crest — is asking the public for help in finding his attackers.

Keith Chamble, 60, was getting out of his car at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 in the 16800 block of Orchard Ridge Avenue when multiple people approached him in his driveway, Hazel Crest police said in a statement.

He was attacked and the group stole his 2018 Nissan Rogue, which was later recovered only a few blocks away, police and family said.

Chamble’s daughter, Shanae Cross, said Wednesday that her father was able to get back into his home after the attack.

“I don’t know how, but he must have summoned some inner strength to get himself inside,” she said.

Chamble was found unconscious by another daughter about 1 a.m. when she arrived home.

“She called me screaming and panicking,” Cross recalled of her sister’s early morning call. “I told her to calm down and she explained what happened.”

Chamble was taken to South Suburban Hospital, but was later transferred to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Cross said, where family stayed by his side for several days.

The father of four children never regained consciousness and died Tuesday morning, family and officials said.

An autopsy found he died of head injuries from an assault and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Shanae Cross, who lives in South Shore, said she thinks her father was on his way home from a trip to the store to purchase lottery tickets when he was attacked.

“He was never one to carry much money,” she said. “But he liked to play the numbers and I think that’s where he was before [the attack]. He played everyday.”

Shanae Cross said her father’s wallet and cellphone were also taken in the robbery.

Keith Chamble | Provided

Keith Chamble | Provided

Her brother, Patrick Cross, who lives in Texas, said his father was a good man who was well known and liked in his community.

He had a lucky streak, too.

“He did like to play the lottery,” Patrick Cross said. “He even hit the Lotto once, I don’t know how much, but it was enough to buy his house” in Hazel Crest.

Patrick Cross said he plans to drive to his father’s home from Texas to help his sisters. During the long drive, he said he’ll have a lot of time to think about everything he wished he could have said to his father and now can’t.

“I feel like I didn’t get a chance to know my father like I should have,” Cross said. “We had a good relationship, but there were things we’d never spoken on that I would have liked to have talked to him about.

“I just want to ask [his attackers], was it worth it? To get nothing out of this? To have taken a life? For what?”

Shanae Cross said Chamble served for 12 years in the U.S. Army before getting his job as a correctional officer at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill. He worked at the prison for more than 20 years.

“He loved his job,” she said. “I’ve heard from several inmates and officers who worked for him. He was very well respected.

“How could someone do this to a man who served his county, who then protected his county? The inmates too, he kept them safe and cared for. Even though they were inmates he treated them with kindness. I can’t see why anyone would want to hurt him,” she said.

The family believes that whoever attacked him lives in the surrounding area.

When Chamble was hospitalized, Shanae posted a photo on Facebook of her father hooked up to a ventilator so that people could see what happened to him, hoping that it would encourage anyone with information to come forward.

“We won’t rest until we get justice,” she said. “Someone knows who you are and what you did.”

Police said the investigation is ongoing and are asking anyone with information to call Hazel Crest detectives at (708) 335-9640.