Palos Heights man shot, casino winnings stolen in home invasion
By STEVE METSCH Sun-Times Media April 15, 2014 11:32PM
The owner of this Palos Heights house in the 7900 block of 131st Street was shot early Tuesday after two men broke in and robbed him of thousands of dollars he had won earlier that night at a Hammond casino. | Steve Metsch ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2014 12:44AM
When their neighbor banged on the front door of their Palos Heights home about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday — shouting that he had been shot — Vicki and Mike Finegans’ military training kicked into high gear.
The couple met in the Marine Corps, where they served for 10 years.
“Even though it’s been 20 years, it all kicked in,” Vicki said. “We did not panic. We did what we had to do to get it done.”
Mike calmed down the 51-year-old man to try to prevent him from going into shock, and Vicki called 911. In moments, an ambulance arrived to take him to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
The man was shot once in the abdomen by attackers who apparently followed him home from a casino in Hammond, where he won several thousand dollars, and broke in through a back door of his house, police said.
They said two men confronted the resident, and one hit him with a “blunt object” and demanded money. The homeowner swore at them, ordered them to leave and a struggle ensued, Deputy Police Chief Dave Delaney said.
“He resisted them, and when he did, they shot him once in the abdomen and took the money. They ran out the door and left other valuables there. They said, ‘Give us the money that you won.’ So we’re confident it has something to do with the casino,” Delaney said.
He said the victim had surgery and was listed in serious condition Tuesday night.
“Hopefully, we can get good surveillance tapes” at the casino, Delaney said. “They could have been at a table with him or looking over his shoulder. They could have heard everyone cheering when he won and headed over when he cashed out.”
Delaney said the Finegans were “very helpful in stabilizing” their neighbor until paramedics arrived.
The Finegans were sleeping when the man began knocking on their door, Vicki said.
“He said, ‘Vicki, I’ve been shot and I’ve been hit. Call 911,’ ” she said, adding that she normally wouldn’t open her door at 3:45 a.m.
“Normally, I’m more security conscious. But for some reason, something told me to open the door and I did. I sat him down right away on a chair in the hallway,” she said. “What was really sad is that last week [a report] said Palos Heights is one of the safest places to live in the United States. It is a great town.”
The neighbor lives alone, has a daughter at college and enjoys classic cars, Vicki said.
Shaja Rabadi lives on the other side of the man’s house. She, her husband and two children moved into the neighborhood in June. They feel safe there, she said, and heard no suspicious noises when the shooting took place.
“That’s crazy. It’s scary,” she said about the men following her neighbor home from a casino.
Delaney, on the police force since 1990, said it was the first shooting, other than a suicide, in Palos Heights since the mid-1980s.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call police at (708) 448-5060.