Community Steps Up for Victim’s Family

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Residents of the Fuller Park community came together on May 19 for a prayer vigil at the corner of 43rd Street and Shields Avenue to support the family of a shooting victim and try to make their South Side neighborhood safer.

Lonzie Suggs, 44, died at John H. Stroger Hospital after being shot three times on the afternoon of May 18 in front of a neighborhood store within 100 feet of Hendricks Community Academy.

The shooting was seen by children who had just been released from school, “the same school where Suggs graduated over 20 years ago,” according to Michael Howard, executive director of Fuller Park Community Development Corp., who hosted the vigil.

A community resident reads condolence messages in front of the site where Lonzie Suggs was killed in May 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns.

“This is an outrage and sad case in a community on the rise and upswing as we boast of providing a safe haven area for our kids,” said Howard, whose wife is a teacher at Hendricks.

After the shooting, Howard urged area residents to work against the apathy and violence that he said plagues the neighborhood and the whole city.

“It is essential that we as adults work together to create safe public space for our children as they walk to and from school and as they spend time outdoors in the upcoming summer.

“Today we want to send a positive message to our local youth that it is in these dark times that community activists may come together in prayer and to mobilize our community.

Local residents are disappointed and disheartened and we welcome you to come out to show your support as we all take responsibility in this fight against black on black violence,” Howard said.

Howard added that the vigil was to “send a signal to Suggs’ killer that this type of event is unacceptable.”

Suggs, a former employee of the Walsh Construction, was a mild mannered and friendly man who was well regarded in the community, and worked odd jobs in the community helping residents with mowing their lawns and as a general handy man, according to Howard.

“He will be missed by all who knew him,” Howard said.

Howard told RJ after the vigil that the money collected from the community during the ceremony would go to Suggs’ family for his burial.

“We were collecting money to bury Lonzie Suggs because basically he had no burial insurance, and right now there is a burden on his family to make sure he is able to be buried,” Howard said.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3) came to the vigil, and told RJ afterwards that she wanted to stress to the community the need to stop the killing. She also urged those who had knowledge of Suggs’ death to come forward.

“We’ve had a rash of violence out here in the community, and we really need to stop this. Our community is a better community than this. We know that people know who did this, and we need people to cooperate with the police, just like we need the police to police our community properly,” Dowell said.

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