ENGLEWOOD — Rosi Love had been helping Alameen Muhhamad fix up a vacant apartment damaged by fire in the building he owned, and feared the worst for him when he did not respond to calls Friday morning.
"I was calling and calling him. I figured he had leaned over the balcony part and that he had fallen," Love, 46, said. "I went down there and he wasn't there, but I smelled a foul stench like something dead."
When Love walked into Muhhamad's second-floor apartment in the 5600 block of South Racine Avenue, which he owned, his worst fears were realized when he found "him lying on the floor."
"It was scary because I had been working and my fingerprints are on everything, but I stayed right here, called the police and waited for the police," Love said. "He was like a father figure for me and others in the community. It's a tragedy, what happened."
Muhhamad, 75, was beaten to death, officials said, and suffered blunt-force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, which called his death a homicide. Police are investigating.
Five others were killed and 24 wounded in gun violence this weekend.
Muhhamad was a well-liked barber, known in his Englewood neighborhood for giving free haircuts to kids heading back to school and adults trying to get a job. He was the type of person "that if you ever needed anything he was there for you," Love said.
"I can't say anything bad about him," Love said.
As police investigate the death, workers at a restaurant across the street from the apartment chalked the killing of "a nice man" up to local violence claiming, "it's the hood."
"Everybody in the neighborhood went to the shop back in the 70s and 60s. We used to go there and sweep up the hair," said Aubrey McCauley, 51, a neighbor who lives behind the shop.
Muhhamad coached McCauley's youth baseball team, he remembered. He recalled Muhhamad as a good man and a hard worker who gave people job opportunities working in buildings he owned across the city.
"It's a bad tragedy," McCauley said.
On Sunday, a Janice Kennedy, a family friend, came by the barber shop - boarded up since Muhmmad's death - to offer her condolences.
"I had just talked to Al when they had the fire. Everyone in the neighborhood knows him," she said. Kennedy remembered Muhhamad giving her son his first haircut 34 years ago.
"Al was just a nice guy. I can't imagine anyone wanting to be mean to him," Kennedy said. "He didn't deserve this."
Muhhamad's son, Al Nathan, 53, suspects his father knew who his attacker was because "that's how they got in his house."
"He knew who it was and he let them in," Nathan said. "He turned his head and they beat his brains out. There was blood everywhere."
Nathan said his father had been a popular neighborhood fixture since 1964.
"He didn't deserve to die the way he did. He was a good guy," said Nathan. "Do you know how devastating it is for someone to hear someone say, 'Your daddy's dead. Someone killed your daddy?'
"It hurt me."