Reporting Mike Puccinelli
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Community leaders on Saturday urged West Side residents to help solve the murder of Chicago police officer Clifton Lewis as his young daughter tried to cope with the tragedy.
Tears fell as 11-year-old Simone Lewis remembered her father, who was gunned down at a convenience store Thursday night in the Austin neighborhood.
“I love him so much and I miss him being here,” Simone said told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli as the girl’s grandmother, Henrietta Fountain, sat next to her.
As for the killers, Simone said, “They are just cruel and mean.”
More than a dozen ministers and community leaders gathered at the murder scene to sing, pray and implore the community to help turn identify the killers.
“To remain silent on this is a crime against your community,” Cy Fields, a minister at the New Landmark Baptist Church, said.
“If you are afraid to come forward you should be afraid not to come forward. Silence is permission,” said 29th Alderman Deborah Graham.
The manager at the store where Lewis was killed, M & M Quick Foods, at 1201 N. Austin, broke his silence to praise the officer who lost his life confronting the robbers. But he, like Lewis’s young daughter, found words difficult.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters this week that two masked men barged into the convenience store and one immediately began firing at Lewis, who was behind the counter. He said Lewis didn’t stand a chance.
Officer Lewis had just proposed to his girlfriend of eight years on Christmas Day and was working night security, off-duty, at the store in part to pay for his wedding.
His fiancée was too distraught to talk Saturday. But ministers who met with her say she felt a sense of familiarity. One year ago, they said, her brother was murdered.
A $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in Lewis’s murder is being offered by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. A tip line has been set up to field calls at (888) 976-7468.