ALBANY PARK — Sameer Barakat, his brother and their father had a weekly tradition of taking late night and early morning strolls, using the strolls as an opportunity to tell jokes and bond with one another.
They took their last one in early August, when Barakat was gunned down in an apparent random shooting behind his Albany Park apartment complex.
Before their traditional predawn meal on August 5 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the three were walking together in their neighborhood. Choosing to spend a little extra time outdoors before going in, they decided to go around the backside of their building, said Sami Barakat, Sameer’s 16-year-old brother.
It was in the alley that a man approached them asking if they were members of the Latin Kings gang, Sami said. After the family responded that they weren’t involved with any gang activity, the man pulled out a gun and started aiming in their direction.
The three ran from the gunman, who shot five bullets, Sami recalled. At least one struck Sameer Barakat, 19, in the head, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The family attempted to take Sameer, who was choking on blood, to the hospital in their car, but they were unable to lift him into the back seat.
Sameer was eventually taken via ambulance to Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was declared dead hours later, according to the medical examiner.
Police have yet to apprehend any suspects in the case, according to Chicago police data.
Sami said his brother was a loving person who cared about his parents and his four siblings. Sami and Sameer were particularly close.
"He was there for me," said Sami Barakat "He was my keeper. Wherever I would go, he would go with me."
A 2012 graduate of Roosevelt High School, Sameer was a member of the track and football teams. But he was best known as a star wrestler, ranking first and third in regional high school competitions in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Sameer was sure to share his passion with his younger brother.
"I told him I wanted to play basketball, but he told me I should wrestle," Sami said about his brother. "My freshman year, he dragged me to the mat. He taught me two moves that I've used to win. He was my coach."