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Robber Pushes Woman Down Stairs At 'L' Stop; Victim Dies

UPDATED 03/29/11 10:05 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A woman has died after an attack in broad daylight at the busy Fullerton Avenue 'L' stop, but she wasn't even the intended target.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Steve Miller Reports


As CBS 2's Susanna Song reports, police say on Monday afternoon, the robber was trying to get away at the busy Red-Brown-Purple line stop, which is one of the system's busiest.

In the process, he pushed a 68-year-old Sally Katona-King, who was standing at the top of the stairs leading back down from the 'L' platform, and left her critically injured.

Newsradio 780's Steve Miller reports Chicago Police have been passing out fliers in the Lincoln Park area - around the Fullerton 'L' stop.

Area 3 Detective Commander Gary Yamashiroya tells CBS 2's Mike Parker, "Because there is a death involved, we are investigating this as seriously as any homicide."

Police describe the robber as an African-American male wearing a black hat, a black jacket with the letters "WS" on the back and blue jeans.

At the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Logan Square where Katona-King served as deacon, she was remembered with admiration.

Always kind. Always positive. A natural personality of hospitality.

That's how 68-year-old Sally Katona-King is described by her boss, Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

"We'll remember her as friend. And not just as friend to us because we worked with her, but as someone who was a natural friend to almost everyone she encountered," Miller tells Newsradio 780.

Said Pastor Eardley Mendis, "We have a homeless program here, a feeding program, and she cooks often for the homeless crowd and she loved the people and made everybody happy here."

Katona-King was known for her work with the homeless in Logan Square, and worked as a receptionist at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Metropolitan Chicago Synod.

A friend, Pastor Ruth VanDemark, says Katona-King was no stranger to tragedy, "She had a grandchild who died at a very young age because, I believe, it was a fire. Her first husband also died - I think they were co-owners of a tavern or something in Chicago - and he was also a victim of, I think, an armed robbery."

VanDemark says Sally Katona-King worked to help the homeless - cooking meals for them at her church.

"Anything that happens, she's there to comfort them and console them," said friend Leona Kerchner. "I've never seen anybody like her in my life."

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Mary Frances Bragiel Reports


Katona-King, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and died sometime Tuesday, police said.

"We found out this morning, and it's just very shocking." said Jeff Drake, associate to the bishop.

The robber had stolen a woman's iPhone on a Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line train. He was pushing through the crowd to escape as the victim chased him.

"We are saddened to learn the woman injured at the Fullerton Brown Line station yesterday has passed away," CTA spokesperson Wanda Taylor said Tuesday afternoon. "CTA continues to work closely with the Chicago Police Department to provide whatever assistance we can for their investigation."

Police say the robber bumped Katona-King right as he got to the stairs, and knocked her down.

"She tumbled down, and he said there was blood everywhere, and they weren't sure if she was going to make it," said DePaul student Ariane Ackerberg. "They said he just left her there and just kept running with the other lady's phone."

Ackerberg was just outside the Fullerton 'L' stop around 4:20 p.m. Monday, and said she talked with a CTA worker who was looking for help.

She said there were "a lot of people huddled around her, there was just, like I said a lot of blood. It was just devastating."

"It sounded horrible," Ackerberg said. "She was just an innocent bystander."

Ackerberg said just being there when it happened makes her think twice about her safety.

"I have never had an issue on the train, but hearing stuff like this, which does happen every now and then, it's just scary," she said. "It makes me more secure of my surroundings, and stuff like that."

Another student who often takes the 'L' agreed,

"It kind makes you wonder, like, what are these people thinking; she's 68 years old?" said Yvette Ocampo. "It makes the world a little sad."

Police are looking for one suspect. They won't say if the incident was captured on surveillance camera.

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