(CBS) –– The very same day Gary officials announced plans to revamp the police department because of an excessive number of murders the owner of an auto-body shop was gunned down right at work.
The victim was 41 years old, the backbone of his family, his loved ones tell CBS 2’s Jim Williams.
It’s one more tragic example Gary’s mayor says a change was needed at the top of the police department.
Right after Antonio Tolbert’s family learned he had been murdered, they rushed to the body shop he owned in Gary. He was the greatest son, his mother, Mary Tolbert Lewis, says.
“He was kind. He was generous. … So, I don’t understand why someone would do this to my son,” he says.
They called him Tony. He started working on cars when he was 13 and always dreamed of owning a business.
“He wouldn’t have to worry because everybody liked him, everybody loved him. He was cool with everybody. If you needed something from him, he got you,” the victim’s cousin, Andre Tolbert, says.
Tony Tolbert was found dead on the very day Gary’s mayor announced she’s making Larry McKinley police chief.
“Over the past 60 days, the city of Gary has been forced to reckon with some of the most heinous murders ever seen,” Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
McKinley, a 15-year-veteran of the department, said he’s hiring 14 new officers and talking with police in New Orleans about crime-fighting strategies that have worked there.
“We will make the few folks who are committing these crimes so uncomfortable they will migrate somewhere else,” he said.
But some things a police chief cannot control: closed businesses, high unemployment, widespread poverty.
Still, outside Tony Tolbert’s body shop, there was little talk of Gary’s economic despair.
“We need to stop all this killing. We need to stop killing one another,” his mother said.