Congressional candidate Elleson prayed over body of Rogers Park murder victim
Congressional candidate and Lakewood Chapel pastor John Elleson of Arlington Heights prayed over the body of a shooting victim in Rogers Park Monday night while visiting the Chicago neighborhood out of respect for another person killed there Sunday morning.
Elleson, a Republican candidate for Congress in the 9th District, said he went to the neighborhood, where some members of Lakewood Chapel live, while on the way home from visiting another regular member's son in Cook County jail on the West Side.
He was driving through the area and deciding whether to walk and pray on its streets when a Chicago squad car sped past him and pulled over a block away at about 10:20 p.m. Monday.
"I was by the Loyola (University) campus," Elleson said. "I pulled over where he pulled over. Then another car came and another car came. There was a guy laying there on the sidewalk."
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowicz, a resident of West Rogers Park, had been walking on the Loyola Park bike path near Lunt Avenue when someone shot him in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The medical examiner Tuesday determined Moscowicz was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, ruling his death a homicide.
Elleson said he told authorities he was a pastor and asked them if he could pray for the victim, who was an Orthodox Jewish man. They agreed that he could do so.
"I just stayed there," Elleson said. "I felt terrible that he was lying there in the rain. It was pouring rain. I stayed there the whole time until the medical examiner arrived at about 1 a.m. I guess they come from the West Side of Chicago."
He later made his way home to Arlington Heights but said he was able to sleep for only about an hour during the night.
Interviewed by a reporter during his initial vigil, he returned to the site Tuesday afternoon.
Elleson said he'd made the side trip to Rogers Park because of the previous shooting Sunday morning. Willard Douglas Watts, 73, was killed while walking his dog on the 1400 block of West Sherwin Avenue, several blocks north of where Moscowicz was later killed, according to the Sun-Times.
Chicago police announced Tuesday they had determined both Rogers Park victims had been shot with the same gun.
"We have people from that neighborhood at Lakewood Chapel," Elleson said. "I thought I should just go there and make myself available."
The man he'd been visiting in jail was not charged with a violent crime himself, but drug-related offenses that have kept him there for the past four months, Elleson said.
That man's mother, and sometimes the man himself, attend services at Lakewood Chapel, he added.
"I prayed with them," Elleson said. "He's done some stupid things, but you've got to stand with them. ... It's a vicious cycle. Addictions are terrible."
Elleson is challenging 20-year Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky of Evanston for the 9th Congressional District seat.