Gunmen Dressed as Utility Workers, Shot South Side Barber Dead: Family

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BRAINERD — Men dressed as utility workers knocked on the door of a South Side barber Monday morning and opened fire when he answered, family members said. 

At 10:16 a.m., two men knocked on a door in the 9000 block of South May Street and shot the man who opened it in his head and chest, said Officer Nicole Trainor, a Chicago Police spokeswoman. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Family members identified the victim as Paul Sappington, 31, a barber who left behind an 8-year-old daughter, a 9-year-old stepdaughter and a wife of two years. 

“He was a great man, a great father and a great provider,” said Deidre Caselle, Sappington’s aunt. “He loved to cut hair. He was always helping anyone he could.”

Family members said the shooters were wearing reflective vests and that a camera inside the house captured the entire incident on video.

Sappington had installed the camera because people had tried to break into his home in the past, Caselle said.

Multiple neighbors said they didn’t hear gunshots, despite being close to the shooting when it happened.

“I just came out and saw [Sappington’s wife] screaming and crying — by that time, police had already come,” said Brittany Miller, who lives across the street.

Outside the house, a growing gathering of friends and family cried and hugged as they processed the loss of their loved one.

“He had such a good heart,” said Tamara Jackson, Sappington’s first cousin, who said she grew up with Sappington in West Pullman. “He was silly, always the class clown. Sometimes he would start dancing in front of you just to make you laugh.”

A graduate of Bogan High School in Ashburn, Jackson said he was interested in engineering and “wanted to be a brain surgeon” before eventually becoming a barber.

Police said Sappington was a convicted felon, but Jackson and other family members said he was “never involved with gangs or riffraff.”

Other residents on the block, which is lined with pristine two-story brick homes, expressed shock that this kind of violence had reached their neighborhood.

“You have a lot of upstanding working citizens and some seniors on this block, and everyone tends to mind their own business,” said Rachel Watson, who lives a few houses down from Sappington. “It’s absolutely crazy to be seeing this here. We get break-ins sometimes, but in the 12 years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen a shooting. This isn’t Englewood.”

No one is in custody, police said.

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