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1 Killed, 1 Injured In Shooting At Englewood's Famed Powell's Barbershop

By Mae Rice in News on May 27, 2016 6:03PM

Photo via Facebook

On Thursday afternoon, a shooting at a well-known Englewood barbershop killed one man and wounded another.

An unknown man fired shots into Powell's Barber Shop (1139 W. 63rd St.) at 3:11 p.m., police said, hitting a 38-year-old man in the arm and a 36-year-old man in the leg. Both were taken to Stroger Hospital, and the 38-year-old man, Gerald Sias, was later pronounced dead. The 36-year-old man was in stable condition last police heard.

Powell's owner—Sunni Powell, 45—was running an errand Thursday when he got a call that a shooting had occurred at his shop, he told Chicagoist. By the time he got back, police were already on the scene.

"I looked through the window, and there were two guys laying on the ground," he said. "There was blood everywhere."

Powell knew both victims as customers at his shop, he said; one was part of a family of Powell's regulars. "His father and his cousins and his whole family, they all get their hair cut here," Powell said.

Located in a strip mall between a phone store and a chicken and fish restaurant, Powell's barbershop is a well-known Chicago institution. Samuel L. Jackson shot a scene there for Spike Lee's Chiraq; Powell also said he's a barber on the set of Chicago Fire.

"It has nothing to do with the barber shop," Powell said, of the shooting. "It just really upsets me that people don't look at this as sacred ground. To bring it inside a barbershop, that's like shooting someone inside a church."

Part of the sanctity of the shop, to Powell, is that kids often come to him for haircuts. He lectures at Chicago Public Schools about the art of barbering—a talk called "It's a Career, Not a Hustle"—and at the end of his lecture, he gives students coupons for free haircuts. He also hosts bimonthly story times for kids at the shop, in collaboration with Metropolitan Family Services, he said.

For now, he and his team are recovering from the damage to the shop. Ricocheting bullets broke some mirrors and tiles, and "they shot up my nice leather couches," Powell said. Police then had to damage the couches further to look for evidence.

Still, Powell told the Sun-Times he has no plans to shut down—and he told us he has plans, established before the shooting, to advocate against gun violence with a major event on July 31. Called the Barbershop Ceasefire Movement, the event will involve Powell and "barbers coming from all over the country" cutting hair for free in Ogden Park, while openly advocating against gun violence. Powell thinks barbers have a responsibility to do so, "since we cut the shotcallers [hair]."

The message of the event, Powell said, is simple. "Your barber's about to start speaking up. We hear everything. We know exactly what's going on."