Bar owner found dead on North Side

October 5, 2009 6:39:08 PM PDT
A man was fatally struck in the head outside a North Side bar he owned. Police say 69-year-old Robert Gonzales was hit in the head with a blunt object early Sunday in Lincoln Square. His body was found in an alley behind O'Lanagan's bar on the 2300-block of West Montrose.

Police do not have any suspects or motive for the murder.

The attack happened sometime early Sunday morning.

Police responded because a burglar alarm was going off inside the bar. That investigation quickly turned into a crime scene.

"This is devastating. It's amazing that something like this can go on," said Howard Rhodes.

Patrons of O'Lanagan's bar gathered on Monday morning, struggling with the murder of bar owner and neighborhood favorite, Robert Gonzales.

"When I first moved in, he's one of the first people I talked to. He said hi and welcomed me to the neighborhood. He was always friendly. I'd see him in the morning," said Jim Jakaitis.

Police are investigating his apparent homicide after the 69-year-old was found lying in an alley near his business early Sunday morning.

Bar regulars say after a slow night, Gonzalez closed up around 3 a.m. and stayed behind to straighten up, only to be found some two hours later severely beaten behind the Lincoln Square establishment he ran for decades. He was later pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic Hospital.

Gary Wang was at the bar early Sunday morning and says he can't image who would want to hurt the man he considered a friend.

"Everybody like Bob. He didn't have any enemies that I know of. He was a real nice guy," said Wang.

Friends say Robert Gonzales was originally from the Philippines and an Army vet with one son and two grandchildren.

His neighbors say although they didn't see him much because of his heavy work schedule, when they did he was always friendly.

"He would come home early in the morning from his business and sleep a few hours and then, you know, 8:00 or 9:00 he'd take off and I'd be out there with the dog occasionally and he'd always honk and wave," said Bert Polk, victim's neighbor.

Detectives investigating Gonzales' attack haven't released a motive for the crime, but 47th Ward Alderman Gene Schulter, who has know Gonzales for several years, says the assault was not random.

"Bob closed the establishment down. He had over $2,000 on him. So it was definitely not a burglary," said Schulter.

Area detectives working the case have not yet released a motive. So although the alderman says he believes the crime was targeted, not random, he has asked police to increase patrols in the area to make sure the community feels safe.


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