Watch CBS News

Widow Wonders How 'Cowards' Who Killed Husband Can 'Live With Themselves'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police were questioning several persons of interest Tuesday morning, after an elderly man was killed and three others were wounded, when gunfire erupted outside a home on the Far South Side.

Odell Branch Sr., 77, was sitting on the couch with his 5-year-old great-grandson around 6:30 p.m. Monday, when bullets shattered the window of the Branch family home in the 200 block of West 105th Street, striking Branch in the neck, and his great-grandson in the arm.

CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reports police say the rival gang member targeted in the shooting is a relative of the deacon.

On the same window, the Branch family had placed a sticker reading "Stop Killing People."

Branch's family did not realize right away he had been shot.

"We all hit the floor when we heard the shooting. I thought my dad did the same, not knowing that he got hit," said Branch's son, Fred.

When the rest of the family got up, Branch did not.

"My sister checked on him a couple of times to tell him, 'Okay dad, it's okay, you can get up. They stopped shooting. Get up,' and she seen blood on his hands," his son said.

Branch had been shot in the neck. He was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he later died. His great-grandson, Shamaree Bynum, was being treated at Christ for a gunshot wound to the arm.

Shamaree Bynum
Shamaree Bynum (Family Photo)

Branch's widow, Irene, had this message for the gunmen who took the life of her husband of nearly 60 years:

"I don't see how that they can be able to live with themselves. Cowards," she said.

A 34-year-old family friend and her 2-year-old son also were wounded by gunfire as they were getting into a minivan in front of the house. The woman was treated and released; her son was still in the hospital late Tuesday morning, but expected to recover.

Police said all four people were caught in gang crossfire. A preliminary investigation determined a small group of gang members shot at a rival group of gang members outside the house. Police sources said a teenage grandson of Branch's appeared to be with the second group of gang members, who shot back.

Detectives were questioning several "persons of interest" in the case, which remained under investigation.

Branch's son said he has to live knowing his mother's morning ritual is forever changed.

"You can't come outside. My mom, and my dad, they like to sit on the porch in the morning. Can't even do it," he said.

Police said no arrests had been made and no charges had been filed as of late Tuesday afternoon.

A vigil was held Tuesday night near the scene of the shooting at 105th and Wentworth.

Reverend Claudia Watkins says Odell Branch had belonged to the Gospel Temple Missionary Baptist Church for more than 25 years.


"He's a pillar, like a cornerstone of our church," Watkins said. "He's the co-chair of our deacon board, he's an elder in our church, he's a leader in our church and he's a role model in our church. This has sort of crushed our spirits totally but we know that he is in a better place."

Watkins told the crowd of 150 who attended the vigil at the scene of the shootings that Deacon Branch stood for something and won't be forgotten and said those present could honor him by working with police to find the shooters.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.