Task force investigates Riverdale murder

October 14, 2010 8:39:31 PM PDT
A Riverdale man was shot to death during a possible home invasion early Thursday morning, police said. Police said the victim, Melvin Burnside, 53, was shot in the head inside his home in the 14000-block of South Clark Street around 3 a.m. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, relatives say, but died soon after.

"I remember him not for what he had or how successful he was, but daddy to me. That is my dad," said Yvette Burnside, victim's daughter.

The South Suburban Task Force is investigating. Authorities are not saying much about the crime that appears to have been a robbery gone wrong. No one has been charged in the case.

Police hope a surveillence picture and a sketch will help them find the offender.

Their first lead is a surveillance picture of a man in a hooded sweatshirt. Authorities will not say where the pictures were taken but they hope someone recognizes the man.

A second lead comes from a witness who was at the scene Thursday morning. That witness provided enough information to make a sketch. Police say the suspect is around 18 to 27 years old, medium build, around 5'5" to 5'7". He was last wearing a rust colored pullover sweatshirt with white lettering.

"The task force has been given a description of the suspect from a victim witness who was going to the Clark street address at the time of the incident," said Riverdale Police Chief William McHenry.

Relatives say the witness is Burnside's girlfriend.

"I talked to law enforcement officials and they said that she was extremely hysterical when they tried to interview her...according to them, she was there," said Maurice Burnside, brother.

Burnside was a successful business owner who volunteered with the youth commission in Riverdale. He had lived in the home for 20 years. His daughter, Yvette, wasn't home at the time of the shooting.

"My father would help anybody that asked for anything, so, you know, somebody just wanted money, they could have just asked and he would have gladly given it. It wasn't worth his life," said Yvette Burnside. "Very sweet and giving, and he just knew a lot of people, and everywhere we went, he knew somebody. So I just don't understand who would do this to my father and take him from us. It's just -- it's terrible what's going on in the street. You know, you can't even be safe in your own home."

"He was a very kind and sweet and noble man. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for anybody. Anybody on the street. And for this to happen to him, to happen the way it did is really sad," said Lolita Jackson, victim's neighbor.

Burnside co-owned a Southwest Side Chicago bar and restaurant, Reeses's Lounge, named for his father. It's been around since 1972.

"We had a Cheers type of atmosphere where everybody knows everybody and we had functions where everybody participated and that type of thing, so it is really a local situation," said Maurice Burnside.

Mark Allen owns a lounge near Reese's.

"He had had a commitment to people in the community. He always made sure people registered to vote. He helped people with job fairs. He helped us serve people turkeys at Christmas," said Mark Allen, victim's friend.

"I honestly believe that (the gunman) will be found. There will be justice. I don't have any doubt about that," said Maurice Burnside.

While police investigate, hundreds of people packed Reeses's Lounge Thursday night. Many of the folks there were police officers and firefighters.

"Melvin had a heart of gold. He was a sweetheart. He told it like it was, but he was honest and sincere. Reeses will not be the same without him. It will be hard for me to come here and he not be behind this bar," said Babette Crawford, friend.

"It was always...great shoulder, great ear, you can always talk to him about everything. Great personality," said Elois Sprolls, former Reeses's bartender.

Hundreds of people remembered Melvin Burnside as a man well known for helping others and those in need.

"There are people that called me and told me about some of the deeds that he did. I didn't know, and others didn't know - because even as a brother, he didn't tell me that he did it. He is speaking for himself. His works are speaking for him," said Pastor Michael Burnside, victim's brother.

Burnside was the father of three, two daughters and one son, and three brothers.


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