Man found fatally shot after Chicago house fire

What began as response to an apartment fire in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood overnight, has turned into a murder investigation.

Chicago police confirm a 49-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound to the head in the first floor unit on the 7900 block of South Elizabeth Street.

Family at the scene Wednesday morning identified the man as Jermaine Waterman. 


Waterman's father, Ronald, said he talked to his son just yesterday evening around 6:30 p.m. and assumed when he failed to call back, that he had just gotten busy.

"Oh it's terrible. It's very shocking to us because he was a very nice young man," he said.

Chicago firefighters responded to the fire call just before 1 a.m. Wednesday. When they found the body they first reported the death was due to the fire. But after investigating, police said it was determined he had a gunshot wound to the head and the case was handed off to Area Two homicide detectives.

It was a shocking turn of events for the family. Waterman's mother, father,stepfather, and stepmother all gathered outside the apartment building hoping to learn more information.

"I think like it's a dream right now to me. I want to wake up and say, 'Okay, it's a dream, it's not him,'" said Ronald Waterman. "This is hurting so bad. This is something I will never ever get over. We love him very much."

Waterman's mother, Patricia, said her son worked two jobs yet always made time for family.

"He was always there for us. You could call anytime day or night and he would be there for us. And it just hurts so badly that somebody would hurt him," she said.

Neighbors said Waterman was the head of the block club and well-regarded in the neighborhood.

"Jermaine was a real gentle guy... and he was a jewel. So we lost a jewel, and he will be missed," said Helen Wright, who lives across the street.

No neighbors or family members noticed anything amiss when they last talked to Waterman and say they have no idea why anyone would want to hurt him.

Police are saying little as they continue their investigation. Fire officials have not released any details about the cause of the fire.