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Shopkeeper Mourned After Weekend Murder

Bassam Naoum

Bassam Naoum was shot and killed in his Munchies Market store on the Near North Side. (Credit: Naoum Family)

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UPDATED: Oct. 18, 2010 6:41 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) - Friends and family are planning a vigil for a Near North Side shopkeeper who was gunned down over the weekend, as police search for his killer.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Bassam Naoum, 59, was shot six times at 8:52 p.m. Saturday inside the Munchies Market, at 950 N. Orleans St. near the Cabrini-Green public housing development. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The following day, community residents formed a prayer circle, for a man better known as “Ollie” who they said made an entire community part of his inner circle.

“You need milk for your kids, cereal, he gave it to you,” said neighborhood resident Felicia Robinson.

“He would open bank accounts for people who couldn’t open bank accounts,” added Ricky Martinez.

Naoum worked in the Cabrini-Green community for many years at his two stores – Munchies, and Ollie’s Foods a few blocks away at 1012 N. Larrabee St. Those who came to his shop regularly and got to know him came to love him like a father figure.

“I can’t believe outside my family, I had a guy like that in my life who changed me into the man I am today,” said neighborhood resident Robert Winston.

On Sunday night, Winston and others came to remember and give thanks to a man who gave his heart to the neighborhood.

“I never knew him to do anything else but to be in the community serving and giving,” Billy Dyson said.

Mourners were still coming early Monday morning. Before 5 a.m., neighborhood resident Steve Mitchell stopped by Munchies and broke into tears.

“He was my friend. I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s hard. I can’t believe he’s gone,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to miss riding past, seeing him standing in that door; coming in, seeing him standing behind that counter. Ollie joked with everybody. He was good to everybody.”

Mitchell pleaded with Naoum’s killers to turn themselves in.

On Monday night, for a second straight day, people plan to gather to honor Naoum, a Jordanian immigrant who through his actions and deeds became one with the neighborhood.

For Naoum’s widow, seeing and feeling the love means more than words.

“It is so gratifying to know the people here would turn out like this,” Phoebe Naoum said. “It makes me feel so much better.”

Police say they are talking to several people, but no suspects are in custody. They say there is a surveillance tape, and on that tape, three people are seen leaving the store shortly after the murder. It is hoped that the tape will lead to an arrest.

The Monday night candlelight vigil is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Munchies.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.