CHICAGO LAWN — What began as a street fight ended with the death of his son, Randy Brittman said Thursday night.
Joseph Brittman, 19, was weeks away from his 20th birthday when a fistfight broke out Wednesday afternoon at 64th Street and South Campbell Avenue, less than a block from his home. Brittman was shot in the back twice after a scuffle about 3 p.m.
Police said Brittman was standing with three other men when two other men approached the group. Neighbors said they saw Brittman's group run west on 64th Street before shots rang out.
What happened in between, according to Brittman's father, is part of a violent trend that's too common on the city's streets these days: a fistfight that turns deadly.
A fistfight would've ended as with just punches thrown back in his day, Brittman explained. But after his son "got the best" of the other man, Brittman said, the "young punk" came back with a gun looking for revenge.
"So since Joseph got the best of him, the coward went into the house to get a gun and shot him two times in the back," Brittman said. "The guy got in his face and hit him, so what should he do? Walk away? He should've, but he didn’t do that."
Upon arriving at Christ Hospital, Brittman said he was told that he had missed his son's last moments by about 20 minutes.
But Brittman said he believes his son "was dead before he entered the hospital."
The bullets ruptured a main artery, he said. Joseph Brittman's breathing was uncontrollable, his heart stopped and he went into cardiac arrest, his father said.
Brittman acknowledged that his son had a criminal record and was dealing the consequences of that record. His son "hung with the wrong crowd" at times, he said, adding that his family didn't believe he was in a gang.
Joseph Brittman loved video games, shoes and basketball, Brittman said, recalling times that the two had played ball together.
"He was a good ball player; he used to think he could beat me," Brittman said.
As for the details of the fight that led to his son's death, Brittman said he's leaving it all to police.
"I could go and find out, but I don’t want to go anywhere near where my son was killed. I'll probably never know," he added. "Right now we're just making arrangements — what no family wants to go through."
Police "have a real good case" against his son's killer, Brittman said.
According to police, one person is in custody, though charges had not been filed Thursday night.