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City Council Honors 'Great Hero' Dwain Williams, Retired Firefighter Killed In Attempted Carjacking

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Aldermen and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday paid tribute to retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams, who was gunned down last month during a carjacking attempt outside a popcorn shop in Morgan Park.

"This young man gave his all to the community in where he lived, and the 34th Ward as a whole," said Ald. Carrie Austin, whose Far South Side ward is where Williams lived.

Williams, 65, was leaving the Let's Get Poppin popcorn store at 11758 S. Western Ave. on Dec. 3, and was walking to his vehicle, when a four-door dark-colored sedan pulled up and four males got out and bum rushed him.

The carjackers fired at Williams, and Williams returned fire. Williams was shot in the abdomen and was later pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said it was devastating to see a man who had dedicated his life to his city and his family gunned down in a carjacking attempt.

"To see a strong African American man who has been a provider for his family, working with the community, working with our youth, and trying to develop other young strong Black men, to see gunned down in the streets of our city was just atrocious," he said.

Four people have been charged with Williams' murder, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot told Williams' family she realizes "it's cold comfort for that loss that you feel."

Lightfoot, who attended Williams' funeral, said she was particularly moved by Williams' nephew, who said that if the four young men who tried to steal Williams' car had given him just five minutes, "he would have talked them out of the actions that they were taking that day," and even offered to mentor them.

"Sadly, he didn't get those five minutes," she said.

The mayor also said she was particularly moved by the eulogy given by Williams' wife, Karen Armstrong-Williams.

"I am in awe of your strength. I know that this is incredibly difficult for your family," she said.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), a former firefighter, called Williams a "brother."

"You answered the call when you were asked to serve your city. We will always be proud of you, and I apologize that we failed you," he said.

Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th), also a former firefighter, said he didn't know Williams personally, but many of his former colleagues on the Fire Department loved and respected him.

"Dwain was loved by all and respected by all, and so thank you for everything Dwain did for the city, and God bless you and your family," he said.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), a former police officer who chairs the City Council Public Safety Committee, said the city lost a "great hero."

"He spent his life dedicated to protecting the residents of this city, and it's my pledge to Lt. Williams' family that we will do all that we can to stop this senseless violence in the city of Chicago," he said.

Williams' eldest daughter, Tarmarcea Humphrey, said the family has started a charitable foundation in his honor.

Humphrey said Williams' family is praying not only for other families, but for the four young men now charged with his murder.

"At 48, I'm still a daddy's girl. When I say that they took our world, they truly have. We appreciate everything the city of Chicago is doing and has done," she said. "My father would want us to go on and fight a good fight."

The carjacking attempt that cost Williams his life was part of a massive spike in carjackings last year, when the number of incidents increased by more than 130%; from about 600 in 2019 to more than 1,400 in 2020.

So far this year, the rate of carjackings in Chicago has only increased, with more than 150 already so far in January.

Last week, CPD Supt. David Brown announced a comprehensive approach the Chicago Police Department will undertake to fight the carjacking epidemic, including an expanded Vehicular Hijacking Task Force by adding staff in each of the department's five detective areas to focus solely on carjackings, and working more closely with cities across the region that also have seen increases in carjackings.

To help solve these cases, Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said they are also adding staffing to the detective division, and they are preparing beat cops to respond to carjacking calls.

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