CHICAGO (CBS) Hundreds gathered outside a River North convenience store Monday night to remember store owner Bassam Naoum, who was shot and killed at his business over the weekend.
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Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports a swarm of his admirers stood at the corner of Oak and Orleans to remember and cheer for a man they say would do anything for anyone. Police had to block the intersection in front of Munchies, his store, because of the volume of people.
Naoum’s daughter Noelle says her father — known as “Ollie” to everyone — treated all his customers like family. Naoum was shot and killed inside Munchies Saturday night. Noelle Naoum says his store had been his second home.
“It means the world that you are here tonight,” said Noelle Naoum, Bassam Naoum’s daughter. “He was part of this community. This was a community he identified with. He always said he was going to stay here until the end and he did.”
Hundreds spilled into the street outside the store at the corner of Orleans and Oak. There were many tears and cheers and prayers for his family who stood behind a makeshift podium.
“Ollie cared about this community, Ollie fed this community,” Andrew Holmes, a community activist, told the crowd gathered. “Ollie worked with this community. Ollie didn’t come into to this community and take money out of this community. He kept it in the community.”
Friends signed posters and left teddy bears, comforted his family and chanted his name.
“It’s just unbelievable the way they would gun him down like this,” Michael Dodds, a former area resident, told CBS 2’s Jim Williams.
Police say the motive doesn’t appear to be robbery because nothing was stolen, including his Rolex watch.
For decades, Naoum chose to work near Cabrini-Green because he wanted to help the community. Friends said he was known to help the less fortunate in the neighborhood. One friend said he gave milk and diapers away to poor mothers who couldn’t afford them.
“He helped many families who needed bread, milk, cereal. He put it out there,” said former employee, Lathursa Jackson. “He wanted us to stick together and he never had anything against anybody.”
His wife Phoebe Naoum says for decades, her husband chose to work near Cabrini-Green because he wanted to help the community.
“This was his life. He spent so much time here and I ya know, nothing will bring him back but this will make us warm memories for the rest of our lives. Thank you, thank you so much for everything.”
Naoum also owned another convenience store on Larrabee that carried his nickname, Ollie’s. That’s what many customers called him.
He immigrated from Jordan 40 years ago. Family members say he will likely be buried there.