UPDATED 03/30/11 4:57 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police are seeking the public’s help in catching the suspect who sent a woman tumbling down a flight of stairs as he escaped from a robbery at the Fullerton ‘L’ stop. The woman later died.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, on Monday afternoon, the robber was running away with an iPhone he had stolen on a CTA Brown Line train when he pushed Sally Katona-King, 68, down the stairs. She was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead Tuesday.
Police are now hunting for the suspect. Belmont Area Detective Commander Gary Yamashiroya said, “Because there is a death involved, we are investigating this as seriously as any homicide.”
Police describe the robber as an African-American male wearing a black hat, a black jacket with the letters “WS” on the back and blue jeans.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the Fullerton station is a very busy CTA stop, so it’s possible many people got at least a glimpse of the suspect. Katona-King’s family said they certainly hope so.
“It makes no sense, no sense. A stupid cell phone. It makes no sense,” her daughter Eileen Katona said on Wednesday.
Eileen Katona was clearly numb and overwhelmed at her mother’s sudden and violent death. And she said she’s shaken by how her mother looked in the hospital after being pushed down the stairs at the Fullerton stop by a man who’d just stolen someone else’s iPhone.
“Horrible, horrible head injury,” she said. “It didn’t even look like her.”
Katona-King never regained consciousness after her fall.
Police have been actively looking for her killer.
Sources said the robber bolted out of the ‘L’ stop’s exit on the north side of Fullerton and ran east.
But the CTA’s only security camera at that stop is across the street, inside the entrance, making it unlikely it captured anything.
But at least one other camera did: a security camera inside a Currency Exchange near Fullerton and Halsted.
The manager said it caught a glimpse of the robber fleeing the scene.
But she said she wasn’t sure if the video would help provide a better description of the suspect.
“I don’t know. It just depends, you know, what the police think, what they see on there,” “But it was hard to tell, it was the glare. Just an individual running eastbound.”
Police would not discuss the security footage, but they were hoping to track the stolen iPhone using GPS.
Eileen Katona said she and her siblings were just coping with their loss for now.
“I’m just going and doing what I need to do to take care of things,” she said.
The family wants the man who killed their mother to pay for what he did.
“Whenever we make bad decisions, we make mistakes, there’s consequences,” Eileen Katona said. “You know, I know he didn’t mean to kill my mother, but he made a bad decision by stealing that lady’s cell phone and pushing my mother.”
Katona-King was a deacon at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Logan Square neighborhood. She lived right next door to the church, which she faithfully attended every Sunday.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports
Her son, David King said his mother lived her life serving the disadvantaged and the homeless.
Katona-King also worked as a receptionist at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
On Wednesday morning, King was struggling to understand how someone could kill his mother.
Making things all the more difficult, this is not the first time King has dealt with a tragedy. In 1971, when he was just a baby, his father was murdered.
“We’ve dealt with tragedy all our lives,” he said, “and my mother was the rock.”
“I’m very angry,” he said. “It’s not the way my mom deserved to die.”
After the robber knocked her down, Katona-King suffered “a massive hemorrhage to the brain; the brain shifted, and then there was blood all over the place, so it was pretty much done at that point.”
The owner of the stolen iPhone sat at Katona-King’s bedside until she died, King said.
“She stayed at the hospital. She was there with my mother the whole time,” King said. “So at least she wasn’t alone.”
King says everything good about him, he got from his mother.
“She did everything that she wanted to do,” he said. “She liked to cook, she liked to helped people, and that’s exactly what she did all her life.”
King says he will take life one day at a time now, but will never forget how his mother died.
“My mother wouldn’t want vengeance. Sure this guy needs to be brought to justice, but my thoughts are a lot deeper than that — what I feel want I want to do to this man, by that’s not what my mom wouldn’t want.”
Police said there might also be a camera at a nearby Dominick’s grocery store, at 959 W. Fullerton Ave., but they do not know if it captured anything.
Katona-King leaves behind three children and two grandchildren.
The wake for Katona-King is scheduled for Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Grein Funeral Home, 2141 W. Irving Park Rd. The funeral will be held at Grein on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and is open to the public.