Gage Park store owner fatally shot, Chicago`s 5th murder of 2013 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Generous Gage Park store owner killed, 5th city homicide of 2013

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Southwest Side store owner lost his life after he was shot during a robbery at his Gage Park muffler shop Wednesday night. His death marks Chicago's fifth homicide of 2013, on only Jan. 3.

"They shot me in the back," he told his son, moments before he lost his life.

Michael Kozel, a beloved Gage Park muffler shop owner, managed to pick up a telephone and speak those words to his 31-year-old son late Wednesday afternoon.

They were 57-year-old Kozel's last words to his boy.

The son - who wished to remain anonymous - said he raced to his dad's shop, only to find Kozel in the back of an ambulance. Kozel was pronounced dead shortly after 9 p.m. at Stroger Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Investigators say two men walked into Independent Muffler Shop at 5654 S. Western, about 5:25 p.m. The two men initially pretended to be customers, but according to police, it was a ruse.

The men then tried to rob Kozel and one of his employees. One of the robbers shot Kozel in the back, as he was trying to get to safety.

Kozel's son said his father was a very generous person. He said if you didn't have money to pay for the work on your car, he was the kind of person that would just work out some kind of deal for you, because he understood that's how people were.

"My dad would fix the car and say, ‘I'll see you in a month.' What shop does that in Chicago these days?" his son said.

Kozel, of the 2700 block of West Seipp Street, owned his Gage Park muffler shop for 20 years. His family said he worked hard to provide for his family.

"My dad had the biggest heart," Kozel's daughter said. "My mom lost her best friend – over something very stupid."

Kozel and his wife were married for more than three decades.

"He had a lot of plans to travel — wherever my mom wanted to go," the son said. "As long as it was with my mom, and it made her happy."

Kozel had a life-long love of fast cars with big engines.

"He liked cars that went from zero to 60 and just threw you back in the seat," his son said.

Police reported no arrests in the case Thursday morning. Kozel's is the fifth homicide of 2013.

Chicago is still reeling from more than five hundred murders in 2012, and the homicides are already out-pacing the days of this new year.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy talked about the ongoing violence with FOX 32's Darlene Hill Wednesday night.

SEE: McCarthy outlines plan to reduce crime in 2013

McCarthy said there would be fewer murders if Illinois had tougher gun laws, and that two of the big factors in the city's high murder rate are guns and gangs.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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