Charges filed in death of photographer in Rogers Park
Eric Vaughn (left), 31, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Wil Lewis. (Chicago police / Family photo / July 14, 2014)
Eric Vaughn, 31, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the death of Wil Lewis, who was shot in the back as he waited for a bus in the 1300 block of West Devon Saturday afternoon, police said. Police said they were seeking two other people.
Lewis and his wife had lived in Chicago for about a year and had moved about two weeks ago to Rogers Park, a neighborhood they considered "safe enough," his family said.
The 28-year-old from Wisconsin, a photographer by trade, was scheduled to start a new job Monday, a prospect he was "very excited" about, family said.
"We're just numb," his father, Joseph Lewis of Virginia, said Sunday. "I'm operating on two hours of sleep and so is my wife. There's not a lot anybody can say. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
"Somebody basically shot him dead. They felt it was a case of mistaken identity. Wil was not in the wrong."
Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, told constituents in an email that he was on Devon Avenue about a block from the shooting when he heard gunfire. “I looked up to see the assailant, who appeared to be a teenager, continue to fire his weapon at a group of fleeing youths. It is something I will never forget,” he said.
The motive for the shooting was unclear but police said they do not believe Lewis was the target.
Paul Humpal, Lewis' father-in-law, said a police officer knocked on his door late Saturday night in Wisconsin to tell him the bad news. "They're sure he is not the intended target," Humpal said the police told him.
Wil Lewis was born in Guatemala and was adopted when he was 7, said his father.
"He came with really no educational background at all. He only spoke street Spanish, nothing formal. He couldn't read or write. So growing up we were tri-lingual – English, Spanish and charades," Lewis said, laughing.
Their family spent some time in California, but Wil mainly grew up in Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin's Door County. For his freshman and sophomore years, he attended Sturgeon Bay High School, where his father was the high school principal.
When his father got another job at Kaukauna High School in Wisconsin, he transferred there and graduated in 2005.
"He was a drummer for the choir, some track and wrestling. . .He tried a little bit of everything,"’ Joseph Lewis said. During college, he was a fine arts major with an emphasis in photography, said his father.
"He was a good guy with a great sense of humor. He loved to tease and joke around,"’ said his father, who last spoke with his son the day before he died, on July 11, his parents' wedding anniversary.
Wil Lewis was an "incredibly talented" photographer, said his sister-in-law, who did not want to be identified. She lives in Wisconsin and was the one to call her sister late Saturday night to tell her of her husband's death.
"He was basically right by home," she said. "It's likely he was just out doing errands. . .He was a wonderful uncle. My kids absolutely adored him. He was incredibly loving, very generous and very helpful."
Lewis' wife was in Madison, Wis., when her husband was shot, helping to host a birthday party for her 5-year-old nephew, Humpal's grandson.
"She is devastated," Humpal said. "She doesn't know what she's going to do without him."