A newlywed 25-year-old Franco-Moroccan was shot dead by a bullet to the head on Monday by an African-American individual, in what local police described as a mysterious murder according to the Chicago Tribune.
Rabat – Hamza Hammouis was taking a nightly stroll on the Howard Street in Evanston in the northern suburbs of Chicago with his wife and young sister, wishing to snap early-morning pictures of the city he recently moved to, when Hammouis came across a man who attacked him for no apparent reason.
“There’s nothing to show they knew each other at all,” a police officer told the Chicago Tribune, adding that they simply “crossed paths and something happened.”
At around 2.45 am, police were dispatched to Howard, a city’s border with Chicago, following a report of a person being shot there, according to a news released from the Evanston Police Department.
Hammouis’ wife, Jennifer Hess, described the incident as confusing, as the man came up to Hammouis and started harassing him for a reason they could not understand. She told the daily news that she tried to intervene by explaining to the murderer that her husband did not speak English, but for no reason he shot him and fled on foot.
The murderer, described as a young African-American man, about 25 years old and approximately 6 feet tall, is actively sought after by the police, reports the Chicago Tribune. The city’s chief of police said that Hamza who had just joined his wife in the US has no criminal record.
According to local police, drugs weren’t involved in the case and Hammouis had no gang ties. For the time being, investigators still haven’t determined what caused the altercation that left Hammouis dead from a gunshot wound to the head, but a police officer interviewed by the news daily said it was not an attempted mugging that went awry.
For his wife, Hammouis’ dream was to live in Chicago. “Most people in Paris want to go to New York, but Hamza’s dream was to live in Chicago,” she said. He was waiting to obtain his green card to start looking for work. The couple, recently married on June 14, intended to later launch a line of clothing.
“He was extremely proud of his Moroccan heritage,” Hess said of her husband. “He would have loved meeting other people in Chicago that shared the same culture as him.”
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Jennifer Hess remembers her husband as “someone who loved life and was always happy.” “He did not even like to sleep,” she adds, “because he felt like he was missing out on living.”
This tragedy gave rise to an impulse of solidarity among the Maghreb Association of North America in Chicago (MANA).
MANA has 4,000 members and helps new immigrants from North Africa integrate in the local community. Moncef Elalamy, a volunteer with the Association who arrived in Chicago in 1994, took charge of the sisters and coordinated with the mother of Hamza, who remained in Morocco to repatriate the body.
The association organized a dinner on Thursday evening to collect 10,000 dollars to to prepare Hammouis’ body according to Islamic rituals and ship it back to his mother in Morocco for services and burial.
Chicago is known for having the highest number of homicides in the United States, and it’s living up to that reputation by already reaching 400 killings for 2017, according to NBC Chicago.
The string of killings has put Chicago’s homicide rate ahead of the pace set in 2016. There were 781 homicides in 2016, but the city didn’t see its 400th killing until August. According to a homicide database compiled by the Chicago Sun-Times, at least two homicides have occurred per day so far in 2017.
Gun violence has been the biggest cause of the huge homicide number in Chicago so far this year. Since January, more than 2,100 people across the city have been shot. Last year, Chicago tracked over 3,000 shooting incidents.