Adam Thornburg often walks the lakefront trail in Loyola Park near his West Lunt Avenue home. He said he was grateful he hadn’t decided to walk it the night of Oct. 1 when he heard of a brutal shooting there in Rogers Park.
He never imagined he would later learn it was his good friend who had been shot dead.
“My heart just sunk,” he said. “You get that sickness in your stomach and you’re just hoping … they have the wrong person.”
Thornburg, 36, and Monday night’s victim, Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, became friends playing Pokémon GO together in Rogers Park through a group with hundreds of active members that connects people who enjoy the mobile game.
A lifelong Rogers Park resident, Thornburg said he’s seen a spike in crime in the last decade, with few concrete answers for curbing it.
“There are people that don’t value life,” Thornburg said. “A lot of times it’s because they don’t feel their life is valued.”
A candlelight vigil was held by Moscowitz’s fellow Pokémon GO players at Loyola Beach at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 to mourn and remember their fallen friend. More than a hundred came out, including Alderman Joe Moore (49th).
Dozens of Moscowitz’s friends described him as a prolific Pokémon player and a global traveler, who had friends across the world.
They recalled his sarcastic and corny sense of humor which didn’t hinder his considerate and generous nature.
Omar Arango, one of Moscowitz’s best friends, said his infectious smile is what stuck out most.
Arango and his whole family played Pokémon GO with Moscowitz, and he said he wants people to know “the big kind hearted gentleman” he was.
Matt Atias, 33, came to know Moscowitz like many did — through the virtual pocket monster-catching app.
But, he said, “once you know him from Pokémon GO,” he “permeates” into the rest of your life.
Ashley Honey said she knew Moscowitz as a recurring face at Pokémon GO meetups.
“He would trade his crappiest Pokémon to give us his best,” the South Loop resident said.
“[Eli] looked like a sort of typical Orthodox Jewish guy that you would think you would have nothing in common with,” Thornburg said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Police said Moscowitz, a West Rogers Park resident, was shot in the head at 10:20 p.m. while walking the lakefront trail bike path in Loyola Park in the 1100 block of West Lunt Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting happened about four blocks from Loyola’s northernmost residence hall, Bellarmine.
It’s the second murder since Sunday morning in the Rogers Park neighborhood. At 10 a.m. Sept. 30, a 73-year-old man out walking his dogs was found dead — shot in the head and killed in 1400 block of West Sherwin Avenue.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday the same gun was used in both murders. A photo of the suspect of Sunday’s murder was also released, a figure wearing dark clothing and a ski mask.
Johnson said the victims were likely random and had no connection to each other.
“There’s nothing on our end right now that points to these two people actually knowing each other,” Johnson said.
A GoFundMe for the funeral expenses for the 73-year-old, Douglass Watts, raised $3,000 in less than a day.
“I’m sick of losing my neighbors,” Rogers Park resident John Heaton said.
Loyola Campus Safety notified the campus community Tuesday afternoon. It said the unsolved murders pose an ongoing threat to the Loyola community.
Anybody with information that could help police determine the gunman’s identity should call Chicago police at 312-744-8263.
Moscowitz’s friends also said Pokémon GO players should be aware of their surroundings and buddy up when playing at night.
Rogers Park and the Loyola area have had a violent month, and students haven’t been spared. On Sept. 2, a Northwestern University graduate student, 25-year-old Shane Colombo, was shot and killed on Clark Street in Rogers Park. A Loyola student was beaten and robbed just steps from the front door of her Lakewood Avenue apartment by three men Sept. 17, and Loyola’s campus police didn’t notify students.
Two armed robbery attempts on Loyola students were also reported in the last week. The first happened Sept. 26, when a man pointed a gun at a student’s head near 1200 West Albion Avenue, but the student was able to flee unharmed. Another Loyola student was threatened with an armed robbery by someone near Fairfield Residence Hall on North Winthrop Avenue Saturday night.