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Man Visiting City for Thanksgiving Gunned Down in West Town

By Darryl Holliday | November 25, 2012 10:54am | Updated on November 25, 2012 5:55pm

CHICAGO — A Missouri man visiting family in Chicago for Thanksgiving was gunned down in a broad daylight drive-by shooting on his way home Sunday morning, his family said.

Leonard Phillips, 34, had just eaten breakfast with his girlfriend and another friend when someone in another vehicle pulled up to the group's rental car and opened fire about 8 a.m., his girlfriend Whitney Thompson, 25, said.

"We pulled over to find a piece of our car charger," Thompson said. "We heard something and he [Leonard] jumped across the passenger seat. He just started fading out. I tried to get his foot off the gas."

The shooting happened in the 2300 block of West Lake Street about 8 a.m., police said. One man was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition and another — identified as Phillips by his family — died on the scene, fire officials said. Cops said the shots were fired from a black Chevy Lumina, which fled east on Lake Street after the murder.

Thompson, who had been dating Phillips for about a year, said her boyfriend was originally from Chicago but moved to Missouri about 12 years ago. The Thanksgiving visit was her first time in Chicago.

"He's not a fighter," Thompson said of Phillips. "He was the nicest person I ever met in my life."

Phillips' grieving mother and other loved ones gathered near the family's West Humboldt Park home Sunday evening.

"He was a family man, he was very likable," his sister Teneisha Phillips, 45, said.

On his Facebook page, a court document dated Sept. 29, 2011 said Leonard Phillips was charged with drug trafficking and possession in Missouri.

A West Town resident outside with her dogs Sunday morning saw the car, a Nissan Cube, pull over after hearing gunshots.

"There was a lady inside the car screaming," Rebecca Kuella, 27, said. Kuella lives in a townhouse facing Lake Street with her husband and two young children.

"It's too close to my front door," said the Rev. James F. Stevenson Jr, bishop of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, who lives near the shooting. Stevenson said the neighborhood "usually doesn't experience this sort of violence."

"I hope it's not gang related," he said.

Sandra Shepard, 61, said she heard four or five "loud" shots about 8 a.m. The great-grandmother lives in an area apartment complex.

"This is surprising. We usually don't have none of this out here," she said. "I worry a little because this is the bus route I use."