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Widow of Chicago shooting victim: America has 'heart problem'

Ricky Byrdsong lauded as man dedicated to family and faith

July 5, 1999
Web posted at: 1:48 a.m. EDT (0548 GMT)

CHICAGO (CNN) -- The widow of former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong said Sunday the drive-by shooting that took his life was "yet another clarion call to our nation."

Byrdsong was gunned down in front of his suburban Chicago home Friday night while walking with his son and one of his daughters.

His slaying has been linked by police to a string of shootings in Illinois and Indiana targeting blacks, Jews and Asians. Two people have died and eight others have been injured.

At a news conference Sunday night, Byrdsong's family remembered him as a faithful and devoted family man who dedicated his life to God and was "committed to building strong families."

Sherialyn Byrdsong, his wife of 19 years, told reporters she hopes the person who killed her husband "would repent of that. Whether or not he does that, I forgive him."

"The violent act which took my husband's life is yet another clarion call to our nation. It is time to wake up, America," she said. "This is not a gun problem. It is a heart problem, and only God and reading his word can change hearts."

Byrdsong's wife says the shooting of her husband is a wake-up call for America  

Byrdsong's father-in-law said, "We are hurt, but we don't hate."

Lyle Foster, the pastor of the Worship Center, said Byrdsong served as a deacon in his church and was on the board of directors.

"He was a very faithful and loyal member, a great friend and a wonderful part of our church community," Foster said.

His widow added: "He gave his life to teaching others to love one another and to treat us the way they would like to be treated."

Byrdsong has three children -- Sabrina, 12, Kelley, 10, and Ricky Jr., 8.

Funeral services are to be held on Wednesday in Evanston, Illinois, and on Saturday in Atlanta.

Police release sketch of suspect in Chicago drive-by shootings
July 4, 1999
Supreme Court strikes down Chicago's anti-loitering law
June 10, 1999
Overall U.S. murder rate down, but youth gun killings up
January 2, 1999
Violence study finds neighbor relations are key
August 14, 1997

Federal Bureau of Investigation
City of Chicago
  • Chicago Police Department
Village of Skokie
  • Skokie Police Department
Northwestern University
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