The gate in front of Norton's Sweet Shop, near the corner of North and Cicero, is covered with flowers, cards and signs from friends offering condolences. The popular store owner Michael Norton was a neighborhood fixture. The business had been in his family for 35 years. His murder last week has shaken many who knew him.
"It's terrible. I'm telling you, I cried just like I know that man for years. That's how nice he really was," said Penny Jackson, customer.
Friends in the neighborhood knew him as "Mike." Nearly everyone was a friend they say. But last Thursday night a suspect entered the store apparently intent on killing him.
And, even as police close in on the suspects, ABC7 News has learned some details of the case: A witness across the street first called 9-1-1 to report a robbery in progress at 7:12 p.m. last Thursday. They reported seeing a suspect wearing a mask lock the door from the inside. Approximately seven minutes later the witness sees the suspect run from the store. Police arrived at 7:21 to find the victim with his hands and feet bound and an apparent gunshot wound to his head. He was already dead.
"I don't know why anyone would do that. The guy would have gave you the shirt off his back, basically. It's scary and unbelievable," said Eric Paulsen, customer.
Norton's sister tells ABC7, "Our only wish is that the culprits are caught and the people in the neighborhood are safe…it is an unbelievable loss for the neighborhood because of who he was and what he meant to the neighborhood."
Police have released no information on their investigation so far, but some neighbors believe Norton may have been the target of gang members or former tenants who were unhappy with his strict standards.
"He didn't like no gangs around here. People come to the store. If they misbehaved, he stood up to them. He wouldn't take nothing from nobody," said Luis Mercado, friend.
The people police are questioning include an alleged gang member, but sources tell ABC7 the motive was not necessarily gang-related, nor was robbery the apparent motive.
A spokesman for the states attorney's office declined to say when charges could be filed in this case.