CHICAGO — When Terrence Graves wasn't selling newspapers at 99th and Halsted, he was spending time with his 4-year-old daughter and fiancee, his mother said.
The family man worked hard and didn't have many friends, so his mother, Teresa Graves, can't understand who would kill her 23-year-old son.
"I just don't get it," she said, standing in a gas station parking lot Tuesday morning, watching police work the scene around her slain son's body on a nearby sidewalk. "He worked every day. He was regular. He was consistent. He was home at 11 o'clock."
Graves was shot about 5:55 a.m. at 99th and Halsted streets, and two men were seen running down a nearby alley after the shooting, according to Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.
Graves' fiancee, Dasha Springer, had just gotten off work when she got the call Graves had been gunned down. She described Graves as a working man and a loving father.
"I don't have anyone to help me take care of my daughter," she said. "I don't know how I'm supposed to explain it to her what happened today."
Sean Mayberry was also selling papers at the intersection when shots rang out Tuesday morning, he said. Mayberry said he hit the ground when he heard seven to 10 shots fired. When he looked up, he saw Graves on the ground and a man running down an alley behind the gas station, he said. Graves was hit multiple times and dead on the scene, police said.
"This is a wake-up call," Mayberry said. "Life is short."
The timing of the shooting was especially shocking, he said.
"There's no gangs out here early in the morning. Nobody's out here during rush hour traffic," he said.
Police said Graves had no gang affiliation.
Witnesses at the scene said someone had gotten into an argument with Graves Monday while he was working, and they believed that may have led to the shooting.
Graves' boss Peter Kash said his employee was a "real jokester" who sold twice as many papers as the other vendors who work for him.
A stack of Sun-Times newspapers and boxes of fruit lay next to Graves' body — covered with a white sheet — Tuesday morning near the intersection where he sold papers and produce for about 1½ years.
Despite seeing her son's body on the ground, Teresa Graves said she was blessed she had her son for as long as she did, given the violence in the city.
"It's a blessing though that he lived to see 23 because daily, they dying," she said of young men in Chicago. "Daily, they dying."
Graves was gunned down just blocks from where an 18-year-old man was killed Monday night.
No one was in custody for Graves' killing as of Tuesday evening, police said.