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Next-Door Neighbors Slain Hours Apart

By Quinn Ford | July 30, 2013 7:31am | Updated on July 30, 2013 1:48pm
 L'Terrick Benion delivered news to his next-door neighbors that their family member, Cauirece Graham, had been shot and killed. Nine hours later, Benion was also gunned down outside his home.
Next-Door Neighbors Murdered Hours Apart
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WEST ENGLEWOOD — L'Terrick Benion and Cauirece Graham were not close friends, but they knew each other, having lived next door to each other in the 1800 block of West Garfield Boulevard for years.

And on Monday, both men were killed.

Mary Benion said when she heard gunshots outside her home Monday evening, she dropped to the floor.

She said it's routine in her West Englewood neighborhood, where bullets seem to fly often. After the shooting stopped, she learned her grandson had been shot.

"I heard some guy say, 'No, not L'Terrick,'" Benion said.

She went to the alley beind her home in the 1800 block of West Garfield Boulevard to find Benion face down on the ground near his car.

She could see bullet wounds in his back and blood coming from his mouth, she said. Benion said she called out to her grandson.

"I said 'L'Terrick, L'Terrick, can you hear me? I could see him breathing, but after a while it stopped, so I know he died right there," the grandmother said.

Police said they found the 23-year-old in the alley about 8:50 p.m. Monday. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:56 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Just nine hours earlier, it was L'Terrick Benion who had run up the steps of his next-door neighbors' apartment to deliver news to Corey Mays that his son, Cauirece Graham, had been shot two blocks away.

"He knocked on the door and told me, 'Man, I think your son just got shot up there at the restaurant,'" Mays said. "I said, 'Not my son.'"

But when Mays went to the Garfield Restaurant in the 2000 block of West Garfield Boulevard, he learned Benion was right.

Graham, 28, was sitting inside the restaurant about 11:55 a.m. when a gunman walked in and fired about eight shots, hitting Graham repeatedly, according to police and staff at the restaurant. The gunman then got on a bike and rode away, witnesses said.

Graham was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 12:40 p.m., officials said.

Neighbors said Tuesday a man had walked in the restaurant and asked Graham where he lived. Graham responded "Motown," and the man left. He went to the gas station at West Garfield Boulevard and South Damen Avenue before returning and opening fire, neighbors said.

Police had not determined whether the two shootings were related, they said Tuesday. Benion and Graham both belonged to separate factions of the Black P Stones gang, police said.

Both families deny the men belonged to a gang. Mary Benion said her grandson had faced some misdemeanor charges when he was younger but had not been in trouble in a few years.

She described Benion as a good person with a kind heart. She said he and his girlfriend had a 3-year-old son, L'Terrick Jr., and Benion's girlfriend was pregnant with their second child, a little girl.

"She's due any day," Mary Benion said.

She said her grandson had just returned from visiting his girlfriend when he was shot.

Graham's family also denied he was involved in a gang. Brenda Graham, Cauirece's mother, said her son "never bothered anybody."

"He wasn't out here in these streets, doing something crazy," she said. "That wasn't him."

Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections, though, showed Cauirece Graham was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon last year and sentenced to a year in prison. He was on parole after being released in December.

Ieshia Rogers, Graham's girlfriend, maintained he was a good person. She said Graham was good with his hands and could fix anything. She said he had plans of returning to school to learn how to repair cars.

But she said Graham was first and foremost a "loving person" and "a beautiful soul," and a good father to his three young children.

Sitting with her grandchildren inside her home Tuesday morning, Brenda Graham repeated that she could not believe her son was gone.

Brenda Graham had been in the hospital for the last week recovering from surgery. She said her son had called and told her their home did not feel the same without her there. Graham told him she'd be home soon enough.

But on Monday, Graham asked doctors to release her early after she received the news her son had been killed.

"It's hard — hard to believe that anything would happen like this to anyone, or anyone's child, but for it to happen to your child," she said. "So happy, full of life, you know. For somebody to just do that to him, I just don't understand none of it, I just don't."

It's the first time either family said it has been touched directly by violence in the neighborhood.

Graham said she wants to see stronger gun laws. Mary Benion said she thinks the National Guard should be called out to stop the bloodshed.

Benion said one of the last times she spoke with her grandson, he told her he was waiting for the winter. He said he thought then, maybe, the shooting would stop.

As of Tuesday, 12 people have been killed in West Englewood this year, according to DNAinfo.com Chicago data, and 10 people have been killed in Englewood.

Benion said her grandson deserved better.

"He didn't deserve to get shot down like a dog," Benion said. "Nobody does."