Chicago murders tie 2011 -- with 2 months to go

October 29, 2012 (CHICAGO)

For 25 years, Fitz Bariffe drove a bus for the CTA. His daughters would occasionally ride along with dad on the Number 36 Broadway bus. They called themselves CTA babies.

"His attitude was the typical Jamaican - no problem. Nothing was ever a problem. We rarely saw him upset. If someone was in trouble, he would take the shirt off his back and give it to them," Suzette Bariffe, daughter, said.

Late Sunday evening, a gunman shot and killed Bariffe in his home on South LaSalle near 95th. Police have not released a motive in his death, which goes on record as the 435th murder of 2012 in Chicago. While it's the same as the total number of murders in all of 2011, that number is of no consequence to children who have lost a father.

"He was 68 years old. He loved everybody. He tried to help everybody and where they would take his kindness for weakness, take advantage of him. He was a loving, hard-working man," Yvette Bariffe, daughter, said.

Bariffe had an alarm system, a new fence out front, and he made it clear to young men in the neighborhood that he didn't want them hanging out on his front steps. At the same time, neighbors say if someone was down on their luck, Bariffe would let them spend a few days until they were squared away.

"Warm-hearted, free spirited, great attitude. He was an older man with a young person's attitude. Just a genuinely nice person," Amanda Smith, neighbor, said.

A significant number of Chicago's murders are gang-related, officials said. Internal gang disputes and retaliations, police believe are -- in part -- driving this year's increased homicide rate. The murder of Bariffe, however, does not - on the surface - seem to fit with that pattern.

The mayor and police superintendent are not happy with the numbers, but believe that the strategies they have in place are working, and that the numbers will start declining again.

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