ROBBINS, Ill. — Jemel Roberson couldn’t wait for his son’s first Christmas.
With a 9-month boy and another baby on the way, the 26-year-old security guard was working extra shifts to buy gifts for his son and the child’s mother, family attorney Lee Merritt said.
But during one of his shifts last weekend, a gunman started shooting up Manny’s Blue Room, a bar in suburban Chicago. Witnesses said Roberson bravely stopped the shooter and pinned him to the ground. But shortly later — for reasons still unknown — a Midlothian police officer shot and killed the security guard, leaving the mother of their child in shambles.
“A family member called me and told me. I just broke down crying in the bathroom. For a long time, I was in the bathroom,” said Avontae Boose, who’s pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Their 9-month-old son Tristan is too young to understand what happened. But he knows his father is missing.
“He’s just been calling (for) his dad,” Boose said Thursday.
Many community members are demanding answers as to why Roberson was killed. While witnesses said he was wearing clothes that clearly identified him as “security,” Illinois State Police — the agency now leading the investigation — said Roberson was wearing just plain black clothes.
The Midlothian officer who killed Roberson has not been publicly identified.
Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney said he is grieving the tragedy.
“What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation at Manny’s Blue Room,” Delaney wrote on Facebook.
“The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his family and his friends. There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.”
Boose, now grappling with the reality of raising two children without their father, is already thinking about what she will tell her children about their dad.
“He was a good father. He was a hero,” Boose said.
“I’m going to tell them when they get older — when they get real older — what happened to their father. That he was a hero, and he saved a lot of people.”