A Chicago liquor store owner got shot and killed Monday night while defending himself against an armed robber.
Police said a man entered J&K Food and Liquors and pulled a handgun. He demanded money from 66-year-old Salim Khamo, the owner working behind the counter. They do not know why the armed robber fired his gun, but police say the robber shot first, and Khamo fired back but missed his attacker. The assailant left the store on foot without taking any money or merchandise.
The Chicago Fire Department took the victim to the hospital, and although he was initially listed as critical, he ultimately died from his wounds. Khamo was a refugee from Iraq and opened the store 17 years ago. Family members said Khamo was just a few weeks from retirement.
WGN News released this statement from his family:
“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. His grandkids were his light and joy. They could brighten his smile every time they saw him. We would also like to say 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.”
Police just releasing this image of the suspect in the West Ridge liquor store homicide Monday night.
This is the man police say biked to J&K Liquors, shot and killed Salim Khamo and took off — leaving a phone and a bike behind.
Khamo's family remembers him at 10 @CBSChicago pic.twitter.com/MK7ZYd9WTA
— Chris Tye (@TVTye) October 19, 2022
The video that the Chicago Police Department released pauses before the actual shooting, but there may have been a brief period when someone could have gotten off a defensive shot. You can see the robber entering the store. He casually sticks his hand in his pocket when he walks up to the counter. He then produces what looks like a semi-auto handgun from his pocket, all while looking away from the store owner, who is behind the counter.
Many people that carry a gun for self-defense will look at this and say he should have shot his attacker immediately, but you never know how you will respond until you have been in a high-stress situation. It was long ago, but I still remember entering a house fire with a rookie. He had been through training, and nothing would have led anyone to believe the guy was not ready. When we went up the steps of the house, the real world set in, and he could not do it. The training was one thing, but once you feel the heat from the flames and smoke so thick you can not see your hand in front of your face, you never know what you will do.
You can have all the training in the world, but at the end of the day, your head has to be in the game, and you need to be psychologically ready for the fight. Physical skills will mean nothing if you have not thought everything through ahead of time and mentally prepared yourself.
We may never know if the store owner hesitated or maybe did not even have his gun close enough to get to it in time. He didn’t go down, though, without a fight, and hopefully, the criminal that did it will be found, and they toss away the key.