By Ray Hanania
Joliet Police said they are looking for a suspect who was involved in the shooting death of Mohammed Y. Eid, a 24 year old store clerk who was gunned down Tuesday afternoon in Joliet.
Eid was widely praised by customers of the convenient store, Gardener Food Mart, 1000 Gardener Street in Joliet near Nowell Park, located Southwest of Chicago in Illinois. Customers in the predominantly African American neighborhood described Eid as “a pleasant young man” who “always had a smile on his face.”
Eid was shot when two masked gunmen entered the store and announced a robbery, displaying their own weapons. Eid grabbed a gun from under a store counter and he and one of the suspects exchanged gun fire. Eid was killed instantly, Joliet Police said.
The suspect believed to have shot and killed Eid, identified as 24 year old Troy Norris of Joliet, was critically injured by Eid. Norris fled the scene showing up at a hospital emergency room near death, and died minutes later in the emergency room at Presence St. Joseph Center, 333 Madison Street, Joliet. The alleged assailant, Norris, was brought to the hospital by two individuals who were interviewed and then released by police.
Police said they are searching for the remaining suspect who could face murder charges in the slaying.
The tradition of Arab Americans opening stores in African American communities began in the 1960s in Chicago. At the time, many White customers viewed Arabs as being African or Black and Arabs were frequently the victims of discrimination in White communities. The African American community has always been more accepting of Arab store owners mainly because of the closeness between Arabs and Africans on issues of social justice.
Despite some tensions driven by local politics, Arabs have helped the African American community by taking stores that had been previously owned and abandoned, providing the only real fresh food market places in inner-city neighborhoods that were abandoned by the bigger grocery store chains, such as A&P, Jewel and Dominicks.
Joliet police described the suspect as African American, 5-foot-9 with a slim build. He was last seen by witnesses as wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt, Joliet Police said.
Friends and customers of the store praised Mohammed as a courteous and always funny young man who respected them and always had a cheerful word for them when they came to the store. They set up a memorial to Mohammed, who is Muslim, in front of the store with candles and flowers and stuffed animals. Many of the customers interviewed on local Chicago television news stations cried as they described the young man whose life was snuffed out in the incident which lasted less than two minutes, witnesses told police.
Mohammed was well known to many in the Arab community in Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. Facebook pages and friends replaced their photos with the picture of Mohammed (inset in the story) in memorial to the young man and this terrible tragedy.
Family and friends are in shock over the loss of this young man’s life, writing on Facebook in Arabic, “To God (Allah) we belong and to Him we shall return. God (Allah) bless his soul.”
The store is owned by Mohammed Eid’s father.