Man shot in Pace van on South Side was murdered for cell phone, police say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 50-year-old man was forced into a Pace van by someone who wanted to steal his cell phone before he was shot and killed in Chicago's Avalon Park neighborhood, police said.

"It was a senseless killing. Senseless killing. Took my brother away from his family," said Juanita White, the victim's sister.

The victim, identified by relatives as Norman White, had stopped at a gas station parking lot near East 83rd Street and South Stony Island Avenue just after 3:15 a.m. Tuesday to say hello to a friend, a female Pace driver who had arrived minutes before. She was driving a Pace para-transit vehicle.

Juanita White said her brother, a father of four, used to be a Pace driver himself. He worked for the company until January of this year. Most recently, he worked a night job.

Relatives said White worked during the overnight hours, and likely saw his former colleague on his way home from work.

"He lives about five blocks away. So I'm thinking he was on his way home and ran into the lady and, you know, he's protective, he was helping her, watching her bag while she ran into the gas station and the guy walked up and robbed him," Juanita White said.

A man who tried to take his phone pushed him into the minivan and opened fire, police said. Mohamad Saif, a manager at the Citgo, said his employee heard the gunfire and called 911.

"He heard, I think he said four shots. He didn't see anything. He didn't even see the guy who got shot because he's in the van," Saif said.

White was struck three times - in his right arm, chest and back - and rushed in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

Surveillance cameras around the gas station caught the entire shooting on camera. Investigators are examining the footage and searching for the shooter.

The gas station is a popular stop for Pace drivers, who pick up their vans at a garage about a mile away.

"Sometimes they park, you know, buy stuff, use the bathroom. Hang around for five, 10 minutes, relax, and leave," Saif said.

Area South detectives are handling the investigation. No one is in custody.

White's neighbors expressed their disbelief upon hearing the news of his death.

"He didn't do nothing but work<' said Frank Bailey, neighbor. "He would go to work about one o'clock in the morning, get off at about 11 o'clock."

"I just wish they'd turn themselves in," Juanita White said.

The female Pace driver, White's friend, was unhurt but deeply shaken in the incident. She recently lost two sons, 18-year-old Roy and 21-year-old James, who were killed Christmas night in a mass shooting at the family's home in Chicago's East Chatham neighborhood.
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