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Man, 27, charged after mother fatally shot in church parking lot

Tribune report

8:45 PM CDT, August 29, 2013

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A 27-year-old Downers Grove man faces first-degree murder charges after his mother was fatally shot and found in the parking lot of a Burr Ridge church, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Michael Zaky Bassaly of Downers Grove is scheduled to appear Friday in DuPage County bond court in connection with the shooting death of his mother, Yvonne Zaky Bassaly, 61, also of Downers Grove, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin and Burr Ridge police Chief John Madden announced Thursday.

The woman was found about 1 a.m. Thursday outside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Chicago at 455 79th St. in Burr Ridge, police said. Police were questioning the person who called 911, Burr Ridge Deputy Chief Marc Loftus said Thursday.

"Officers responded to the St. Mark's Coptic Church for a report of a gunshot victim," Loftus said. "Upon their arrival they found a … female in need of medical assistance."

She was taken to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 1:40 a.m., police said.

DuPage County sheriff's investigators collected evidence Thursday afternoon at a Downers Grove apartment complex where the mother and son both resided, according to public records. A car found at the scene is registered at that address in the 2000 block of Prentiss Drive.

Loftus called the shooting "an isolated incident" and said the community was not in danger.

The sheriff's office could not be reached for comment.

Pastor Samuel T. Samuel said he was thankful none of his parishioners were involved or hurt and that the church was re-evaluating its security.

"The (parking lot) gates are always open because you want to give the impression that the house of the Lord is always open and available," Samuel said. "This is a wake-up call for us to take more security measures, to close the gates and get security cameras. We don't want the church to be the stage for a crime."

Rebecca Michaels, who said she is the church's attorney, said the woman who died and her family were Egyptian and known around the Coptic Christian community, but they were not members of the church.

"We believe that it is an isolated incident that has nothing to do with us, particularly with any kind of hate crime against Coptic Christians," Michaels said. "We, like many others, are very curious about the motive. We want to know why this would happen on the church site."

Michaels said the church, which was built in the 1970s, counts more than 800 families from Burr Ridge and nearby communities as members. "There's lots of solidarity between churches in Egypt. These people would know where the church is," Michaels said.

She said the expansive parking lot has ornamental gates that are always left open. The church was closed at the time of the shooting, Michaels said.

"We believe that they took advantage of the open gate," Michaels said. "It was the only car in the lot."

Michaels said the incident rattled many in the community.

"I'm a parishioner, but I'm also a parent who sends my child to the Montessori school there," Michaels said. "I've lived in Burr Ridge my whole life. It's hard for me to imagine that this would happen here. There's still a lot of unanswered questions."

Tribune reporter Dawn Rhodes and freelance reporter Joseph Ruzich contributed.