Reward offered in shooting death of landscaper

June 3, 2011 3:07:47 PM PDT
A reward is offered in connection with the shooting death of a landscaper. Twenty-three-year-old Heriberto Barajas was killed while he worked in a yard on Chicago's Southwest Side back on May 20.

It's been two weeks and no one was been arrested in connection with the murder. Friday, relatives and co-workers of Barajas returned with armed security to the home where he was shot to make an appeal to the public.

Colleagues honored Barajas by completing the work he wasn't allowed to finish.

"There are no words to tell you how difficult it is to come back here today, but we knew we had to be here," said Tandem Landscaping owner Barbara DeKerf. "This was Heriberto's project, and we were not going to walk away from it."

It was exactly two weeks ago that the 23-year-old landscaper was gunned down while leveling soil in the backyard of a property in the 6400-block of S. Talman.

Police say the motive was likely robbery and as many as four men may have been involved.

"His main priority was to work. Came home, you know," said Perla Garsia, Barajas' sister-in-law.

Friday, his loved-ones fought through tears to announce a reward of $6,000.

"I know in my heart someone watching this news today has information about these men," DeKerf said.

"Write it on a piece of paper. You don't have to put your name; you don't have to put anything. Just write what you know, and we'll get it to the proper authorities," said Ald. Toni Foulkes, 15th Ward.

Neighbors say the killing of Barajas is part of a disturbing pattern. Since last summer, multiple contractors and repairmen have been robbed or harassed while working at homes in the area.

Barajas was working at a house that was being rehabbed as part of a city-sponsored revitalization project in this area hit hard by foreclosures.

"There are many people looking to revitalize neighborhoods and communities, and everyone working together to do that, and these types of incidents deter that from happening," said William Towns, vice president of Mercy Portfolio Services.

"The city's involved with neighborhood stabilization, and we need help," said Foulkes. "And we're not just going to give our neighborhood up when we're trying to do something so positive."

When he was shot, Barajas was working with his brother, who was not injured.

Barajas leaves behind a 5-year-old son, who is now staying with relatives. His colleagues say they will continue to work despite the danger they feel.

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