Gage Park auto shop owner shot dead in robbery

January 3, 2013 3:35:13 PM PST
Police are looking for two people after they apparently tried to rob a storeowner in the Gage Park neighborhood.

Then they shot and killed Michael Kozel Thursday night near 56th and Western at the muffler shop he owned.

Police say around 5:30 p.m., the two men started talking to the 57-year-old shop owner about problems with their car. When they all went inside Independent Mufflers, Inc., the two men tried to rob Kozel. When he tried to run, he was shot in the back. He was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital just after 9 p.m.

Police say there was another man in the shop who was robbed, but he was not hurt.

Kozel is known in the community as a good guy who helped a lot of people with their cars. He becomes the fifth murder victim in the city of Chicago two days into the new year.

Last year there was a 16 percent increase in the murder rate. There were 506 homicides total in 2012.

Police are still trying to come up with suspect descriptions.

Kozel's family says he was able to call his son after he was shot. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital, but hours later, he died due to a severed spinal cord.

The employees at Independent Muffler covered the graffiti on the garage door as Kozel's family prays for justice.

"There are no words to describe the pain my mom and my family are going through," said daughter Amber Kozel.

Michael Kozel's wife of 37 years, Antonia, is devastated.

"Unreal, I don't know how else to put it," she said.

Kozel's family says they always worried about him working in the Gage Park neighborhood.

"My dad had the biggest heart and my mom lost her best friend over something very stupid," said Amber Kozel. "You worry about him but that's part of the work in that neighborhood."

The well-known automobile enthusiast leaves behind his wife, two children, and three grandchildren. He was a passionate member of the low rider community.