No bond for Army veteran charged with killing William Smith during attempted robbery in South Loop

Chicago Sun-Times

Robert Burgess | Chicago Police

Robert Burgess | Chicago Police

An Army veteran was ordered held without bond Tuesday for allegedly shooting William Charles Smith to death during a robbery attempt in the South Loop over the weekend.

Police were able to track 56-year-old Robert Burgess from watching surveillance video of him holding a semi-automatic gun and fleeing in a dark-colored Hyundai, while wearing a Devin Hester Bears jersey, blue shorts and white gym shoes, Cook County prosecutors said.

Burgess first saw Smith walking in the 1800 block of South Michigan on Sunday morning, Assistant State’s Attorney Elena Gottreich said. After observing that Smith, 45, was alone, Burgess drove up, pointed a .45-caliber gun at Smith and demanded money, Gottreich said.

The pair got into an “altercation” during which Burgess shot Smith in the head, Gottreich said.

Smith had just left his residence, in the the 1900 block of South Indiana, to go get coffee when he was shot, prosecutors said.

Burgess fled, but investigators saw him and his license plate in the surveillance footage. Once police tracked down the Hyundai outside a South Side building, they looked inside and found the weapon, Gottreich said.

William Smith | Facebook

William Smith | Facebook

Preliminary examination showed the gun fired the casing recovered hear Smith’s body, Gottreich said.

Police also found the Devin Hester jersey, blue shorts and white gym shoes inside Burgess’ residence in the 6200 block of South Kimbark, Gottreich said.

The shorts and shirt were damp, hanging near a bottle of dish soap, Gottreich said.

Logs show Burgess had signed out of his building at 9:06 a.m. and came back at 10:24 a.m., Gottreich said.

Smith was shot around 10 a.m., according to authorities.

Burgess was also seen on video carrying the Devin Hester jersey in his hands as he came home, Gottreich said.

He later told police he carried the shirt because it was covered in blood and that he didn’t want anyone to see, Gottreich said.

Burgess also admitted he tried to wash Smith’s blood off the jersey with the dish soap after shooting him during the attempted robbery, Gottreich said.

Burgess has a 1980 conviction for conspiracy to commit murder, prosecutors said.

Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler said Burgess, who went to Simeon High School, served in the Army for two years. The married father of three works for U.S. Messenger and had previously worked as a truck driver, Koehler said.

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