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Chicago liquor store owner, a refugee from Iraq, shot and killed during armed robbery attempt

<i>Chicago Police/WBBM</i><br/>A liquor store owner was shot and killed during an armed robbery attempt Monday night in the West Ridge neighborhood. Surveillance video shows the man suspected of the deadly shooting riding up to the store on a bike.
Chicago PD/WBBM
Chicago Police/WBBM
A liquor store owner was shot and killed during an armed robbery attempt Monday night in the West Ridge neighborhood. Surveillance video shows the man suspected of the deadly shooting riding up to the store on a bike.

By Chris Tye, Megan Hickey, Asal Rezaei

Click here for updates on this story

    CHICAGO (WBBM) — A liquor store owner was shot and killed during an armed robbery attempt Monday night in the West Ridge neighborhood.

The deadly shooting happened shortly before 10 p.m. at J & K Food & Liquor at 6320 N. Western Ave., between Devon and Rosemont avenues in West Ridge, or West Rogers Park. Owner Salim Khamo, 66, was shot and killed.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Tuesday, surveillance video shows the man suspected of the deadly shooting riding up to the store on a bike.

The man rides up and parks the bike next to the store, then walks in. Twenty seconds later, the man – now on foot – comes running out of the building. He drops his cell phone and darts into traffic on the street.

Late Tuesday, police also issued a community alert showing surveillance images of the suspect.

Police also posted surveillance video from inside the store on their Facebook page.

The video was clear and detailed. A camera angle not seen before shows the suspect covered in what appears to be a COVID-type mask.

He makes small talk with the store owner Khamo — pointing toward the back of the store – and then he shoots and kills him.

The suspect was later seen running from the store and dropping a cell phone. The suspect also left the bike behind.

While the whole incident only lasted 20 seconds, it took the life of a father and grandfather who was about to retire next month.

Sami Khan owns Cell N Comp Repairs down the block at 6314 N. Western Ave. It was his surveillance cameras that picked up the video of the suspect.

Khan says he knew Khamo well.

“Life is not so cheap. He did not kill one guy – he killed a whole family,” Khan said. “People who do this kind of thing don’t realize who they’re hurting and how much they’re hurting.”

Khamo was working the front register when the assailant entered. Police said the suspect pointed a gun at Khamo demanding money. The man then shot Khamo in the chest, police said.

Khamo returned fire without hitting the robber, who ran off without stealing anything.

Khamo was taken to AMITA Health Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston in critical condition and was later pronounced dead.

“I will not see his face again. Will not see him wishing again,” Khan said. “We lost him. For nothing.”

Family members said they are heartbroken. Khamo’s daughter, Sally, said he’d owned the liquor store since 2005.

“My father was the most compassionate and hard-working man I know. He left Iraq as a refugee to escape persecution and to build a better life for his family. The store was a testament to his honest work and he was so proud of all the risks he took to provide more for his family. He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren who he loved more than anything else in this world. Nothing brought him more joy than to watch his family continue to grow in the new life he had started here for them. To whomever is responsible for this senseless act of violence, I hope you are brought to justice for taking the life of such a loved and honored man.”

There were seven wonders in Khamo’s world, said his son, Siefar Khamo.

“He loved his grandchildren more than anything,” Siefar Khamo said. “Anytime one of them walked through the store, he was the happiest man in the world.”

Khamo’s family had a message for the killer.

“It wasn’t just a guy to me. This was a very important person to a lot of people,” Siefar said, “and whoever did this, you need to know you hurt a lot of people today – and probably for a long time.”

The area around Khamo’s store was draped in police tape Tuesday morning and was lit by candles Tuesday night. It is a little darker with a community staple now gone.

Meanwhile, Khan says more needs to be done to protect business owners like Khamo.

“Because if business owners are not safe, who is?” he said. “How can we run the business?”

The family said they are accepting condolences at Mart Mariam Chaldean Church in Northbrook on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

No one was in custody Tuesday night in the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Perricone at Area Three detectives, at (312) 744-8261. Anonymous tips can be submitted to CPDTIP.com.

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