The store owner was the son of a Chicago police officer who had a reputation as a stand-up guy in the tough West Humboldt Park neighborhood. He came from a family of nine children and was chosen to run Norton's Sweet Shop after his father died.
Over the years, Mike Norton never backed down from threats. He even shot and killed a would-be robber in 1991. However, someone got the better of him Thursday night.
A neighborhood gathering spot was taped off Friday as police investigated the shooting that happened shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday. Norton owned the shop and the apartments above it, and after a lifetime of giving to the community, he was thinking it might be time to rest.
In Norton's tidy Glen Ellyn neighborhood, where the rain fit the somber mood of neighbors Friday, many residents in the area were too upset to talk. However, the mother of the best friend of Norton's 16-year-old daughter spoke of loss and longing.
"[He was a] very dear friend. We are going to miss him. A wonderful father, wonderful friend, wonderful neighbor," neighbor Jo Lombardo said. "We are going to miss his fishing stories and his exuberance for life. And this is very tragic, and I am very sorry that there are people out there who have no regard for life and took our dear friend."
Near the store, several people spoke of Norton's habit of helping. He was known to sponsor residents of his apartments, for example, who were going through Alcoholics Anonymous programs.
"He was one of the nicest guys I have ever known. Nice, friendly, treated everyone with respect," said Joe Pagan, a fellow storeowner who knew Norton for 21 years.
However, that respect may have been ebbing. Police say Norton was shot in the back of the head, and his hands had been bound when he was found.
Those nearby said Norton had turned out gang members from his property.
"I think a lot of stuff happened when he put them out, you know, retaliation. You know how it goes, but he was a good person, really he was," said friend John Morrow.
"The neighborhood was getting rough and he was looking to retire soon, and start spending more time fishing and with his daughter, and unfortunately that's not going to happen now," Lombardo told ABC7 Chicago.
Norton's sister says he did not carry a gun but had one in the store.
It was not clear Friday if the man's assailants escaped with anything from the show.
Chicago police are investigating the case. No one was in custody Friday evening.