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5

Clerk fatally shot at Zion gas station

The day Edwin E. O'Bryant was killed by a bullet in the back of the head...

The day Edwin E. O'Bryant was killed by a bullet in the back of the head, apparently for about $200, he wasn't supposed to be at work.

Police said O'Bryant, 27, of Zion, was slain early Monday during a robbery at the Shell Kwik Pantry, 2807 Sheridan Rd., in Zion after agreeing to work on his day off.

O'Bryant, a clerk, was found lying behind the counter around 5:45 a.m. by store manager Stuart Carlin when he arrived to relieve O'Bryant.

Police had no one in custody.

There was no sign of a struggle. And even though it is one of the few gas stations in town open all night, Carlin said there have been no robberies or attempted robberies there in the three years he has managed the business, which is across the street from City Hall.

"This is just an unfortunate set of circumstances," said Lt. Lou Tessmann, commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, an investigative team handling the case.

Among the 30 officers working on the case Monday were technicians who were trying to recover a videotape from a security camera in the store, Tessmann said. It was determined late Monday that there was no videotape, he said.

O'Bryant's fiance, Timiesa Smith, said he had complained about the videotape security system failing to work a number of times since O'Bryant was hired in March.

"We stayed on the phone talking for a while several times because the tape was sticking and he was afraid to get off if it wasn't working," Smith said.

Tessmann said the task force had developed several good leads, including a list of people who might have been in the area when the shooting occurred. A roadblock was planned for around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday to try to talk to people who might have passed by at that time the night before.

Details of the crime are still sketchy, in part because it wasn't discovered for several hours, Tessmann said. The assailant took the store keys and locked the front and perhaps the back door so no one except the manager could get in.

Smith, 23, the mother of the couple's 2-year-old daughter, said she last talked to O'Bryant about midnight and everything seemed OK. O'Bryant, who originally was from North Chicago, was kind-hearted and wanted to become a computer technician, she said.

The couple had been together for six years and were planning to get married next year.

When she found out Monday morning about O'Bryant's death, "I thought it was a dream," Smith said. "I really wish it was."

chicagotribune.com