Family mourns 74-year-old killed by stray bullet

October 30, 2011 3:31:44 PM PDT
A fight between two brothers ended in the shooting death of an innocent bystander whose family remains stunned by the incident.

Police are still searching for the gunman responsible for the death of Webster Gater, a father of five. Although retired, the 74-year-old handyman got up every day at 4 a.m., got dressed and then went to his favorite diner before doing maintenance work for friends.

"He was a real good person, honest person," says the victim's son Jason Jones.

Witnesses say the Saturday morning argument between the brothers started inside, then moved outside. That's when police say one brother, armed with a handgun, fired at the other brother and hit him in both legs. Gater, who was in the Lawndale neighborhood to help a friend with some repair work, was struck in the head by a stray bullet near 15th and Harding.

"He just came out the gangway at the wrong time -- at the wrong place at the wrong time," said neighborhood resident Carnay Dorsey.

Relatives say Gater was a native of Oxford, Miss. He moved to Chicago in the 1950s and had lived in Lawndale with his family for more than 30 years. He had recently relocated to west suburban Maywood with his wife Marion of 50 years.

"That was a big stab in my heart and I've never had it weigh on me like this, outside of family like this did," said the victim's friend Pearl Williams.

On Sunday at Hody's Grill, where Gater had his morning coffee, there is a small remembrance to the man nicknamed "Painter."

"He was here every day, sometimes three or four times a day," said Sarah Helm, Hody's Grill.

The wounded brother also was being treated this afternoon at Mount Sinai, where he initially was considered in serious condition. In addition to his wife and children, Webster Gater is survived by 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

"It hurts. I miss my father so much," Jones said.

Harrison area detectives are still investigating.

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