(CBS) – A South Shore church offered special prayers Sunday for a 74-year-old deacon who was fatally shot in what may have been a carjacking attempt.

For years, Deacon Willie Cooper sat near the pulpit.

This Sunday, the congregation at St. Philip Neri felt the painful loss.

“Emptiness. Because, you see, you’re so used to seeing him there, and then all of a sudden, null and void — nothing there,” parishioner Alvin R. Williams said. “And all you can do is think about the times that he was there, what he transmitted, and what you felt when you left the church.”

He and Deacon Cooper were friends for decades.

“When he was up at the altar, he gave inspirations. Because it looked like he got the spirit all the time,” Williams says.

Deacon Cooper was found in a vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds about 4:45 a.m. Thursday in the 7000 block of South East End Avenue, according to police news affairs.

His funeral services are Thursday.

Chicago Police say no one is in custody for the murder.

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