2 Harvey youth football coaches shot, killed

April 21, 2011 3:17:10 PM PDT
Harvey police are looking for the killer who gunned down two men in their south suburban home.

Police say they believe it is an isolated incident. No one is in custody.

"We do want to let the general public know and the citizens of Harvey that this is an isolated incident, that there is no random person or persons going around shooting and that we strongly believe that the two victims knew their assailant," said Chief Denard Eaves, Harvey Police Department.

The men were murdered Wednesday. According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, both men suffered gunshot wounds to the head and were dead on scene. Police say they have been following several leads but do not yet have a motive.

"As a police officer, first I would like to say every case will be solved, and I share the same sentiments in this case," said Eaves.

The two victims are being described as good men who coached children's football.

"He was a loving person, and I'm really hurting," said Demphsy Wilson, aunt of victim Echford Cooper, 45. She said she rushed to Cooper's home after learning he was shot and killed. Because of his diabetes, he used a wheelchair to get around.

"Why someone would want to kill someone in a wheelchair, I don't know. I don't understand. I just don't understand," said Wilson. "I don't understand what happened. Why it happened I don't know because he was getting ready to get married."

The other victim is identified as Frank Brassel, 50. He had two children. His family says he coached youth football for years and did odd jobs to get by. It is believed he owned the home and Cooper lived there with him.

Cooper had his leg amputated, according to relatives. They say Cooper moved in with Brassel a few years ago so Brassel could help take care of him. Cooper also helped Brassel coach.

"Whoever did this you know, I don't know what to say about them, but God take care of them," said Johnnie Gibson, Cooper's cousin. "He got along with everybody. He helped everybody if he could. He wasn't a bad guy."

Police have said nothing about a motive but say the victims likely knew the shooter.

"He was a cool guy. He got along with everybody. He helped the kids. I loved him. He was all good," Gibson said.

The two men coached a local Pop Warner youth football team and were well known and liked in the neighborhood.

"I spoke with them a couple times about getting a couple of my sons on the football team, and he was telling me how to go about doing it. He was very helpful, a good neighbor," said neighbor Levi Redd.

The murders come at a time when the mayor is reorganizing the Harvey Police Department. In recent years, they have been dealing with allegations of corruption and botched investigations.

The Harvey home on South Myrtle Avenue sits directly across the street from a school. It's freshly boarded up and secured. The shooting happened just down the street from the mayor's house.