View Full Caption
UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — Robert Howard Jr., a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran who had written about how working with dogs helped him through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was shot and killed in University Village Tuesday. A woman has been charged in connection with his death.
Howard, who was in the Army, wrote that he found “comfort, joy and peace” while working with dogs, and had adopted a puppy in 2015, according to officials with Safe Humane Chicago program.
At about 6 p.m. Tuesday, officers were called to the 1000 block of West Maxwell Street and discovered Howard unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds, according to Chicago Police and medical examiner’s office. Police earlier said Howard was shot in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.
View Full Caption
Charneise Silas, 45, of the 1000 block of West Maxwell Street, was charged with one count of felony aggravated battery Friday, according to a police news release. She was arrested after being identified as “one of the offenders” who participated in the shooting death of Howard, police said Saturday. There was no additional information about her arrest.
Earlier this week, a police source told DNAinfo that Howard had called the police previously to report that someone had been drinking and smoking outside of his apartment. The investigation is ongoing, police said.
In early 2015, Howard participated in Veterans Advancing the Lives of Rescues (VALOR), an 8-week Safe Humane Chicago program that pairs military veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with animals that had been abused, neglected or used for fighting.
Howard’s VALOR experience was so successful that he decided to pursue adopting a dog of his own, said Cynthia Bathurst, Safe Humane Chicago’s executive director.
With help from the rescue’s staff, Howard adopted Rugby, an 8-month-old puppy who had been surrendered by a previous owner, from Animal Care and Control in April 2015. Howard renamed the dog Apollo, a name that showed “strength, determination and courage,” Bathurst said.
Howard wrote about his experience adopting Apollo in the The Unexpected Pit Bull’s annual calendar. After graduating the VALOR program, where he received “comfort, joy and peace” working with animals, Howard said it became clear that he would like a dog of his own.
“I am a veteran that suffers from PTSD and I am a disabled Vietnam combat veteran,” Howard wrote. “By heaven’s grace, I have found Apollo.”
Adopting Apollo helped him work through his “anger, isolation and depression” and helped connect him to other veterans who suffered from the same issues, Howard said.
“The gratification, comfort, happiness, and love that I feel by having Apollo is unparalleled,” he wrote. “I see him as my companion.”
After Howard was murdered, police discovered that Howard had graduated the VALOR program and contacted Safe Human Chicago staff, who immediately took Apollo in. Now 17 months old, Apollo is being boarded next door to the rescue’s offices and being cared for by staff.
Bathurst said that Howard’s friends, family, fellow veterans and the Safe Humane Chicago team are devastated. Apollo is grieving, too.
“All of us go to visit him, but Apollo keeps looking for Robert,” he said. “Whenever he sees anyone with Robert’s build, he is eager to meet with them, but then just keeps looking.”
Safe Humane Chicago will eventually work to adopt Apollo to new loving owners when the time is right. The big, joyful puppy, will need a stable home with lots of, snuggles, exercise and love. Apollo could be a Shepherd mix, Mastiff mix, Great Dane mix, of Stafford Terrier mix, Bathurst said, but officials aren’t sure.
Thresholds Veterans Project, an agency that helps veterans recover from mental illness and trauma, will hold a memorial service in remembrance of Howard next week.
“No human being deserves to be murdered,” Bathurst said. “We’ve got to make something helpful and hopeful and good come out of this.”
Robert Howard Jr., 62, pictured with his dog Apollo, was murdered in the 1000 block of West Maxwell Street in University Village Tuesday. [Josh Feeney/Safe Humane Chicago]
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: