Tinley Park memorial grows, charges loom in slayings of mother, three daughters in domestic shooting (2024)

Mourners arranged flowers upright in the snow on Monday, left small stuffed animals and placed a votive candle outside the Tinley Park home where a mother and her three daughters were killed in a domestic shooting over the weekend.

“I wish you peace,” said Samah Qasmieh, a Chicago State University professor, as she paid her respects to the victims, one of whom was a student of hers.

Police said the shooting Sunday was the deadliest in the southwestern suburb since the Lane Bryant killings of 2008.

Authorities expect to file charges against a suspect in the coming days. But the suburb’s police chief declined to identify the person until charges are approved.

“We’re in the middle of a very complex investigation,” Tinley Park Police Chief Tom Tilton told reporters late Monday morning. “We expect to have a firm decision later on in the afternoon or further in the week, and we don’t want to say anything that will prejudice this.”

The tragedy unfolded 11:20 a.m. Sunday, when officers were called to a home in the 7400 block of 173rd Place after a man called 911 to report a person shot, police said.

A recording of a dispatcher’s call indicates the husband called 911 to say his wife had been shot. “We’re getting a call from a male subject that his wife was shot,” the dispatcher says in the recording. “The line disconnected. He wasn’t really cooperative. We have police en route as well.”

Tilton said police responded quickly, arriving three minutes and thirty seconds after the call was dispatched, and arrested the suspect a minute and twenty seconds after that. A weapon was recovered, he said.

Inside the home, police found three women and their mother fatally shot, police said. The women, who were pronounced dead at the scene, were identified as Majeda Kassem, 53; Halema Kassem, 25; Hanan Kassem, 24; and Zahia Kassem, 25.

Tilton on Monday would not say if the 911 caller was the same person who was arrested. He declined to describe the relationship between the suspect and the victims, but did not deny that police have classified the crime as “domestic” violence.

“We have a suspect in custody, and that’s all I can really say,” Tilton said.

Tinley Park, a suburb of 55,000 people about 30 miles southwest of Chicago’s Loop, hasn’t seen a crime this bad in over a decade, the police chief said.

“We haven’t had any crimes like this in Tinley Park in forever, really. The last large event like this would have been Lane Bryant in 2008,” Tilton said. “We had a homicide a year or so ago. But of this scale? Not since Lane Bryant,” he said.

Five women were killed and a sixth wounded in the Feb. 2, 2008 slaying at the store in the Brookfield Marketplace in Tinley Park, but the crime remains unsolved despite thousands of tips police have received.

On Monday, Tinley Park Mayor Michael Glotz said, “This is a difficult day and a stark reminder of how quickly domestic violence can escalate.”

Qasmieh said she taught Halema Kassem at Chicago State University, where Kassem was in her third year.

“I just envision her in her bedroom studying for the exam they have Tuesday, doing nothing wrong at all,” Qasmieh said.

The professor later postponed the test as she and others came to the home Monday to pay their respects.

“I love you,” she said.

Itedal Shalabi, cofounder and executive director of Arab American Family Services, told reporters that the family is of Palestinian decent and Muslim, but that religion did not have anything to do with the shooting.

“At this point, this has nothing to do with Islam or any other religion. This is about power and control. This is about gender-based violence,” Shalabi said at Monday morning news conference.

“This is a tragedy. This is a tragedy for any community,” Shalabi said. “But this is a tragedy for a community that doesn’t talk about domestic violence as much as we need to, and to address it as much as we should. And so we are hoping that we can prevent other incidents from happening if the community also reaches out and starts asking for help.”

Pam Koseki, executive director of the Crisis Center of South Suburbia, said that when a gun is involved, there’s a 500% greater chance of someone dying in a home situation involving domestic violence.

Tinley Park memorial grows, charges loom in slayings of mother, three daughters in domestic shooting (2024)

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