Regina Kolbow heard the news while she was setting up for her 5-year-old son’s birthday party.
She said her sister and her husband, Wil Lewis, felt safe in their new neighborhood outside Chicago. But Saturday, waiting for a bus near their apartment, 28-year-old Lewis was the victim of a drive-by shooting.
“It really doesn't feel real at all right now,” Kolbow said.
Police arrested 31-year-old Eric Vaughn, the man they believed drove the getaway car and handing the weapon to a gunman.
Authorities have yet to take the person who pulled the trigger into custody. Prosecutors say that man, possibly a teenager, was aiming for a rival gang member when he shot Lewis in the back.
Kolbow said something has to change about the culture around Chicago.
“There's no magic piece of legislation that's going to make it go away. It has to be a personal choice,” Kolbow said. “People have to wake up and decide, we're not going to live like this anymore. This is not OK. And only then, by the grace of God, are we going to be able to change it.”
Kolbow said while it brings the family some sense of peace knowing someone connected to the senseless crime is in custody, it won’t bring an end to the problem.
“It really doesn't matter if they're off the streets. The violence continues,” Kolbow explained. “It's just going to be another family who's sitting here, you know, in this situation. It's going to be another young kid behind bars or an older person behind bars. It really just needs to stop.”
Kolbow said her brother-in-law was the most creative person she knew. She described him as a music lover who was generous and kind.
Lewis was adopted from Guatemala and came to the states when he was 7. Kolbow said one of the first presents his dad in Wisconsin gave him was a camera, and he has been behind it ever since.
Lewis and his wife would have celebrated their second wedding anniversary next month. Kolbow said they were talking about starting a family. Lewis followed his bride down to the Chicago area and found a full-time photography position.
Kolbow said she will keep Lewis’ spirit alive for her kids by taking plenty of pictures and dancing often (Lewis was an avid music fan and frequently danced with her 18-month-old).
“The saddest thing is she'll never know him, and even my 5-year-old, I mean, he'll remember him, but you know, how that's going to fade eventually one day,” Kolbow said. “You really just can't comprehend it.”
Kolbow said the family would eventually like to establish a scholarship in Wil’s name. For now, people can help by donating to a memorial fund at http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/wil-lewis-memorial/204035. Any contributions will help cover funeral costs.