Family of City Winery server stabbed to death speaks out: 'Thought it would be a safe place to work'

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Sunday, May 26, 2024
Family speaks out after server stabbed to death at West Loop venue
Francois Swain's family is speaking out Saturday after the City Winery server was allegedly killed by coworker Clarence Johnson in West Loop, Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A south suburban family is grieving the loss of a Harvey grandfather and restaurant server who was stabbed to death while on the job in the West Loop.

Francois Swain, 47, was killed earlier this week by a coworker, Chicago police said.

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The victim's family spoke with ABC7 Saturday about how their ongoing concerns turned into a tragic reality.

For just over a year, Swain took public transportation from Harvey to the West Loop to work at the City Winery. His family was always concerned about his safety while headed to work. Their worst fears came to reality, not on the train, but instead at his job.

To hear that something had happened at work, I was like, 'How? What do you mean?
Erica Ferrell, victim's sister

"I was truly against that, you know, transportation," Swain's mother, Karen Coleman, said. "And, hearing he got killed at the job, that's horrible."

Swain was giving needed support even in his final moments alive.

"I keep thinking that... ',how was my brother feeling? Was he scared?'" Swain's sister, Erica Ferrell, said. "Again, he probably didn't think anything of it because he was so busy trying to help someone."

Swain was working Wednesday night as a server at the City Winery in the West Loop when the 47-year-old was stabbed multiple times with a pocketknife by a dishwasher, Clarence Johnson, police said.

"I believe he met with the entertainment for the evening, wished them a good show, and then minutes later he's gone," Ferrell said.

Johnson, who has 12 prior felony convictions, was arrested on scene and has been charged with the deadly attack.

In court Friday, prosecutors said the stabbing was unprovoked, happening after Johnson was laying on the floor praising Jesus while staff was preparing for an evening concert.

"To hear that something had happened at work, I was like, 'How? What do you mean?'" Ferrell said. "I thought it would be a safe place to work at."

A judge ordered Johnson to remain in custody to wait for trial.

Until then, the victim's mother and sister are finding it difficult to come to grips with the tragedy that ripped Swain away from not only them, but his 19-year-old daughter and his one-year-old grandson.

"And his grand-baby, he just started walking," Coleman said. "So, he was so proud of that."

Funeral arrangements for Swain are pending.

Johnson is due back in court June 12.