Community mourns man's shooting death

April 29, 2008 4:46:38 PM PDT
A community is in shock after the shooting death of a 32-year-old Chicago man.Otis Townsend was known for his unselfish work for others. He had several jobs, including one as a shoe salesman. He was making a delivery Tuesday night when someone shot him in the head.

Townsend was the kind of young man that Englewood desperately needs more of. So says his family who said they can think of no reason he would have been targeted other than perhaps a botched robbery or carjacking. As they grievet, they say their loss is being felt by an entire community.

"He was a caring person who would give anything to anybody and do anything for anyone, " said Michelle Townsend, victim's widow.

Husband, father, brother, uncle and role model to young people in Englewood - that is how his family is remembering Otis Townsend. Police say the part-time shoe salesman was shot and killed around 9:30 Monday night while making a delivery in the 8200 block of South Aberdeen. His yellow Hummer SUV jumped a curb and struck a house after police say he was shot in the head through an open window.

His wife says that Townsend was a community activist, fighting the kind of violence that took his own life.

"A lot of extra stuff for his school. He would go way beyond his job. He was just a beautiful person, inside and out," said Michelle Townsend.

Townsend also worked as a part-time gym teacher, at the Academy of St. Benedict African School. He and his family lived just down the block from Ceretha White, a 10-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet two years ago. After that shooting, Townsend helped the girl's family and organized a block party.

"He didn't want to see the children live the type of life that we had to live. That's why he volunteered so much," said Diane Townsend, victim's sister .

His family says the former Navy sailor was the kind of young man Englewood cannot afford to lose.

"No words can describe what these people, these monsters have done, not just to one person, to a community, a community of black people. They have taken away our leaders," said Stephany Clemons, victim's sister.

Witnesses tell police they saw two young men running away from the scene on foot. But so far, police have no one in custody. Police say it's not clear if anything was taken or if robbery was indeed the motive.

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