Calumet City, Ill. (WLS) — Police are now searching for several suspects at large after a security guard was shot and killed inside the River Oaks Mall in south suburban Calumet City on Wednesday.
The family identified the victim as 57-year-old Norman Thomas and said he was full of life.
“He was a very good person, the most beloved son-in-law,” said his aunt, Mamie David.
The Army veteran loved his family and his job.
“He came all the way from Desert Storm and never had an injury or anything in the military. And then he comes here and then he gets killed doing his job,” David said.
Recently took a job as security at a jewelry store in River Oaks Center.
Sources told ABC 7 Chicago that the shooting was carried out by a group of armed robbers who got away with jewelry.
See | Police update on shooting at River Oaks Mall
Calumet City Police Chief Kevin Kolosh said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that police responded to a report of shots fired at the mall around 12:15 p.m.
The mid-afternoon shooting brought out a swarm of police and sent mall workers and shoppers scrambling for safety.
About 20 Calumet City police officers were in an active shooter training session on the mall’s properties and responded quickly, officials said.
See also | Two men have been charged after a shooting in the parking lot of Yorktown Center Mall, police said
Those officers found a male security guard with multiple gunshot wounds and immediately began life-saving measures until paramedics arrived, Kolosh said. The second victim, an 81-year-old man, suffered minor injuries to his arm from broken glass and was treated at the scene.
After Thomas was taken to the hospital, officers searched for multiple suspects. But after sweeping the mall for an hour, no one was caught.
Thomas died at the hospital.
His family is heartbroken. They spent the weekend together. Said goodbye to my mother who was out of state. Now, the family must reunite, this time to bury the man they call the backbone of their family.
“He was always there for me. He was always trying to keep the family together,” David said.
“Norman was like my brother; it really hurt, it really hurt,” said Willie Booker, Thomas’ former brother-in-law.
While police declined to comment on a motive, sources tell ABC 7 Chicago that the thieves targeted the store. Police said the accused fled and are not in custody.
Calumet city spokesman Sean Howard said concerns remain about crime and safety at the mall.
“We’ve been in constant discussions about acquiring this mall for a variety of reasons, but especially for safety and security,” Howard said. “There are certain steps we’ve asked them to take, some of which have been met and some of which have not been met.”
Other store owners said they had complained about issues including drug dealing.
The owners of the River Oaks Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The mall is closed and it is unclear when it will reopen. City officials said they would not allow the mall to open without a list of demands, including the installation of more cameras.
“We are going to persist in our pursuit of acquiring this mall because these particular owners have not been very neighborly to our residents,” Howard said.
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