Retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams leaves behind a wife and children — and a legacy of goodness and heroism

By KC Baker
December 18, 2020 01:30 PM
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Lt. Dwain Williams
| Credit: Chicago Fire Dept

On Dec. 3, retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams was leaving a popcorn store in the Morgan Park section of Chicago when a car pulled up and screeched to a halt.

Four young men stormed out and began firing at him.

Instinctively, Williams, 65, drew his own gun and fired back – but not before he was shot in the abdomen.

He was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Now two teens are in custody and charged in connection with the shooting death of the retired lieutenant during what police say was a failed carjacking attempt, according to a release from the Chicago Police Department.

On Thursday, the Chicago Police Department announced that it arrested a 15-year-old whose name is being withheld because he is a minor.

He was arrested on Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. in Chicago Heights.

He is charged with first-degree murder and attempted robbery – armed with a firearm.

A second suspect, Dwain Johnson, 18, of Gary, Indiana, was arrested on Wednesday in Oak Forest. He was taken into custody by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force.

Dwain Johnson
| Credit: Chicago Police Department

He is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated attempted vehicular hijacking with a firearm, possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a machine gun/automatic weapon.

It is unclear whether either suspect has entered a plea or retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

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The incident began at about 2 p.m. on Dec. 3, when Williams was leaving the Let’s Get Poppin gourmet popcorn store on S. Western Ave., say police.

“He was not just a customer,” store manager Larry James told the Chicago Tribune. “He was family.”

Just before he was shot and killed, Williams was inside the store laughing and chatting with everyone, just like he always did, he told the Chicago Tribune.

“It hurts,” James said.

Police released surveillance video showing Williams walking to his vehicle when a four-door Ford Fusion pulled up and three males exited and rushed toward him, say police, CBS 2 reports.

One male was driving the car, which police allege was stolen.

The three males fired at Williams, who fired back, shooting him.

Police later recovered the Ford Fusion in Tinley Park.

Evidence recovered from the car helped police obtain arrest warrants for the 15-year-old and for Johnson, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said, CBS 2 reports.

'He put his whole heart into this city'

As police continue to investigate, Williams’s family and friends are mourning his loss.

“He put his whole heart into the city,” his wife Karen Armstrong-Williams said, the Chicago Tribune reports.

His youngest daughter, Dakeeda Williams-Barton, called the popcorn store “our place,” saying she and her father often bought popcorn there before watching movies together, she told the Chicago Tribune.

She looked up to her father, who was so accomplished and gave back to the community, including helping children by coaching basketball teams in the area.

“He was my superman,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “I was proud of him.”

Early Walker of the group I’m Telling, Don’t Shoot  is one of the community leaders helping raise money for a reward to help find the other suspects, NBC 5 Chicago reports.

“Here is a man that gave his life to the city – retired; finally was able to retire and try to enjoy his life, and now his life has been taken,” Walker said, CBS 2 reports. “If someone out here that knows who these individuals are, do the right thing.

“We want justice for this family,” he said.

Williams's wife told NBC 5 Chicago, “Dwain was loving, respectful and honorable, a model citizen who tried to lead others in the right direction.

"This is a really great loss, not only to my family but to all the citizens in Chicago.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Area Two detectives at (312) 747-8271 or to make an anonymous tip to CPDTIP.com.