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Family and Friends of Slain Father Searching for Answers

By Quinn Ford | April 21, 2013 8:24am
 Donald Holman pictured with his two children, who are now teenagers.  Holman, 37, was shot and killed Friday night in the city's Ausin neighborhood.
Donald Holman pictured with his two children, who are now teenagers.  Holman, 37, was shot and killed Friday night in the city's Ausin neighborhood.
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AUSTIN — Anna Smith said she was in her basement when she heard her family members say her cousin was laying in the street just outside her house.

He had been shot.

Smith said when she got outside she saw shell casings litter the ground and said first responders had already put her cousin, Donald Cornelius Holman, in an ambulance, but she wanted to make sure he was okay.

"I just went through the [police] tape to try to get to him, and they told me I couldn't because it was a crime scene," Smith said. "I just wanted to let him know I was there."

Holman, 37, was pronounced dead less than half an hour later, police said.

Holman was shot three times in the leg about 8 p.m. Friday night just outside his home in the 1100 block of North Menard Avenue, according to Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman.

Police did not have details about what happened, but neighbors said a dark-colored car with tinted windows pull up alongside Holman and open fire.

Holman was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:21 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Smith said she was told one bullet hit an artery in Holman's leg, and he quickly bled out.

Holman's sister, Tomika McCann, said Holman had walked his stepfather to a bus stop a few blocks away and was shot as he walked back to his house.

"I just don't understand what happened," McCann said Saturday. "He was never in a gang, never gangbanged or anything."

Police had no information whether the shooting was gang-related, according to Officer Joshua Purkiss, a police spokesman.

Smith said she believed the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

Smith and McCann remembered Holman Saturday as a good person and a good father who enjoyed life and liked having a good time.

McCann said Holman was the third of eight children. She said Holman was named after Soul Train creator Donald Cornelius and went by the nickname Neil.

She said her brother had two children, a daughter and a son, and two young grandchildren who he loved to spend time with.

"He was outgoing, loved his kids. He loved his family," McCann said. "He liked to enjoy life and have a good time." 

Holman is one of at least seven people who have been shot between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening, police said. No one was in custody in connection with Holman's murder as of Saturday afternoon, police said.

Smith said Saturday she was still shocked at Holman's murder. She said her neighborhood is usually quiet, although there was another shooting on her block about a year ago.

She said Holman had lived with her four about four or five years and remembered him as "a good kid" who was always there to help. Smith said Holman liked to prepare breakfast in the morning.

"You wake up, coffee's ready...and breakfast if he was in a good mood," she said. Smith said Holman tried to be creative in the kitchen. She said his cooking was good, although sometimes she ate it with her eyes closed.

McCann said her brother's death is the first time she has been touched directly by gun violence in Chicagon. But it's something with which Smith is all too familiar.

Her son was shot and killed eight years ago. She said Holman and her son were the same age. She said she does not understand why some people "think it's up to them to take someone's life."

And she said her 13-year-old daughter is also struggling to comprehend the violence. Smith said her daughter recognized Holman as he lay in the street Friday night, bleeding to death.

"She's been asking me, 'Momma, why?'" Smith said.