ROGERS PARK — As Nathalie Mogang sat on a bench Monday, waiting to catch the No. 155 bus as rain began to fall, she tried to forget what happened two days ago, just a few steps away.
"I was scared," Mogang said of how she felt after she heard photographer William Lewis, 28, had been gunned down Saturday in the 1300 block of West Devon Avenue. "Especially here — I was thinking, 'I have to take the bus right here, where he was killed.'"
News of the daytime shooting came as a shock to Mogang, fellow residents and Lewis' friends and family.
Ben Woodard discusses the neighborhood's reaction to the shooting:
Lewis had recently moved to Rogers Park and had been on the Devon Avenue sidewalk about 3:20 p.m. Saturday when a gunman opened fire, striking Lewis in the back. A short time later, Eric Vaughn, of Uptown, was arrested and later charged in the murder.
In bond court Monday, Vaughn was held without bail. Prosecutors said Vaughn and an "uncharged co-offender," members of the Conservative Vice Lords, were driving by when they spotted a rival gang member. Vaughn then passed a gun to the other person, telling him, "Wet that T-shirt up" — or make the rival gang member bleed — prosecutors said.
But the other person, who fired the shots, hit Lewis, who was not the intended target, prosecutors said. Vaughn, 31, had also been released from prison in April after serving seven years for a 2004 attempted murder.
Lewis, a commercial photographer who loved to tell stories through the lens of his camera, had moved from Milwaukee to Chicago with his wife in 2012, shortly after the two got married, said Warren Rader, Lewis' close friend from Milwaukee.
"He had a really positive outlook on life, considering all the setbacks he experienced in his life," Rader said in a phone interview. The native Guatemalan was adopted at 7 years old and later attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where he met Rader.
They both graduated with a degree in fine arts photography.
Rader said Lewis freelanced with retailers, shooting models and products. In two weeks, he planned to start a fulltime photography gig with an online retailer.
But then, Rader said, "Out of the blue, his life was horrifically ended."
Lewis' online portfolio not only features his commercial work, but also street scenes and portraits, like a man riding a unicycle and a brown-eyed woman, her hand held at her chest, bathed in sunlight.
"I think his heart was in portraiture and meeting new people," Rader said. "He often had a camera with him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t have a camera with him when he was shot."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) was a block away knocking on doors and shaking hands with constituents when the shots rang out.
"I heard a series of pops, 'Pop, pop, pop, pop,' " Moore said Monday. "I knew right away that it wasn’t fireworks. It was gunfire."
As he looked north, toward the sounds, he saw what appeared to be a teenager crossing Devon Avenue toward the south, he said.
He was "holding a handgun with a long barrel, firing shots" at a group of people running ahead of him, Moore said.
When the shooter went out of view, Moore said, he saw Lewis lying on the sidewalk.
Moore said he met with detectives Monday and "gave them a full account" of what he saw.
He also praised the actions of residents who immediately came forward and told police what they witnessed, which he said helped lead to the arrest. Prosecutors also said witnesses had managed to photograph the alleged shooter as he fled.
One witness at the scene allegedly saw Vaughn speeding the wrong way down a one-way street after the shooting, according to a police report.
Another witness flagged down police to report he saw a man erratically driving a black Toyota Camry on Devon after the shooting. That witness was able to give police a description of the man's clothing, according to the report.
Vaughn, who prosecutors said had parked his car near the scene while he looked for the alleged shooter, was quickly found by police in the 6300 block of North Wayne Avenue and taken into custody, the report said.
Niki Hammer, a 10-year resident of Devon Avenue, said she had just gotten home Saturday when Lewis was shot.
"It was crazy," she said.
She said that she would often see Lewis coming and going from a next-door building, when he visited a friend who lived there.
"It's just a sad situation. It's hard," she said. " ... Put the guns down."
Stephen Cunneen, owner of Cunneen's Bar, at 1424 W. Devon Ave., said Saturday's shooting was the most violent act he can remember happening on Devon in the 42 years he's owned his tavern.
"I consider it to be safe," he said. "I walk home at 3 a.m. and never feel unsafe."
Chris Zimmerman, owner of Ellipsis Coffeehouse, said he hopes the incident doesn't "change people's perception of the neighborhood."
"I feel absolutely safe here. Something like this is completely out of the box, in terms of normal," he said. "It sucks."
On Monday, people passed by the storefront, a former drug store, where Lewis was killed. An bullet apparently broke one of the windows. Someone had pasted newspaper clippings about Lewis to the storefront's doorway. An unsigned note was also left there, next to two candles and under a small pot with flowers.
It read, "With deepest and heartfelt sympathy to family and friends of Wil Lewis."
Rader, Lewis' friend, said Lewis' wife was with family Monday and planned to identify the body, as "the nightmare continues."
"All of us are trying to help her through this," he said. "She’s absolutely devastated.
"We’re really missing Wil."
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