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Local News

Joliet friends, neighbors and customers remember slain store clerk

Joliet friends, neighbors and customers remember slain store clerk

JOLIET – The death of Mohammad Eid shocked and saddened dozens of his friends, neighbors and customers of the Gardner Food Mart in Joliet, where he worked until he was killed Monday in a botched armed robbery.

Those who loved him gathered outside the Joliet store near Nowell Park on a cold Tuesday evening to pay their respects to Eid, who knew many of them by name, including the neighborhood children. As they decorated the store’s entrance with lit candles, flowers, teddy bears and signed posters, they cried and comforted each other. 

Megan Cooper of Joliet urged the crowd to stop the violence. She encouraged them to look out for one another and do something positive.

“Don’t let all the good he’d done go in vain,” she said. 

Eid, 24, was shot and killed during an armed robbery attempt Monday afternoon at Gardner Food Mart, 1000 Gardner St., Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said. One suspect died after the attempted robbery while another remained at large Tuesday.

Throughout Tuesday, patrons and those who knew Eid came by to decorate the store entrance in his honor. At night, they held a vigil, where they prayed and sang.

Joliet Central High School student Jesus Alvarez said Eid would always ask him to hand him a bag of chips when he came into the store and he would always call his mom “Mama.” 

“He would always smile at me. He used to call my mom, ‘Mama.’ ‘What’s up, Mama.’ He was nice with all the kids,” he said. 

Ashley Northern, 26, of Joliet led a circle of residents in a prayer for Eid, and also for Troy A. Norris, 24, one of the suspects in the attempted robbery who was shot and later died.

“I just pray for both families. Both people,” she said. “I’m not mad at anybody.”

Earlier Tuesday, Rodolfo Vasquez, 47, of Joliet said Eid was a good guy who would give items to the neighborhood children, such as candy and chips. Vasquez came to the store in the morning to hang a small cross at the entrance.

“He is going to be dearly missed,” Vasquez said. “He helped the neighborhood kids.”

James Edward, 75, of Joliet pulled up to the store parking lot in his car Tuesday and was surprised to learn of Eid’s death. He said he spoke Monday morning with Eid at the store, where he goes to play the lottery.

“I said ‘have a nice day’ and he said ‘you too, man.’ ” Edward recalled. “It sure hurts me, man. It hurts me.”

Botched robbery

Norris and another man were both covering their faces with hoods from their sweatshirts and masks when they walked into the store about 3:15 p.m. Monday, police said. Both robbers were armed, Benton said.

Eid got a handgun from under the counter and exchanged gunfire with the robbers, Benton said. The store has interior and exterior surveillance cameras.

Eid was shot in the chest and thumb, Benton said, while one of the robbers also was shot in the chest area. A Joliet Fire Department ambulance took Eid to Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Norris fled and was later dropped off at the medical center, where he also died, Benton said. Detectives questioned two people early Tuesday about taking Norris to the hospital, but do not believe they were involved in the robbery.

One customer “came in and out” while a friend of Eid’s was “hanging out in the back stockroom” during the incident, which lasted less than two minutes, Benton said.

According to the Department of Corrections, Norris of Joliet was scheduled to complete parole Wednesday for aggravated battery and drug possession convictions.

While serving time at the Illinois River Correctional Center in 2013, Norris was charged with 16 counts of money laundering and fraud. He was allegedly among a ring of more than 15 people who ripped off Joliet banks by withdrawing money at ATMs and having money orders issued from the same accounts before the insufficient funds were discovered, according to investigators.

Norris was scheduled for a pretrial hearing on those charges next month.

Lt. Mike Batis said Joliet police have arrested Norris 15 times for offenses, including armed robbery, auto theft and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Norris was sentenced to three years in prison for a 2008 robbery conviction.

Benton said as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday the second suspect – who has not been named – remained at large and was being sought by police. He was described as a black man around 5-foot 9-inches tall with a slim build. He was wearing a gray hoodie.

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POLICE SEEKING ASSISTANCE

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 815-724-3020 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734.

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