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Hobart Uber driver dies two days after being shot in the head, aunt says

Hobart Uber driver dies two days after being shot in the head, aunt says

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CICERO — A Hobart man who was shot in the head Monday while driving for Uber has died, a family member confirmed.

Joe Schelstraete, 38, was taken off life support at 11:41 a.m. Wednesday, his aunt Kim Bova told The Times. 

Schelstraete was taken to Loyola University Medical Center after the shooting, and the family was making arrangements for his organs to be donated.

"It is a really senseless tragedy," Bova said of her nephew's death.

Ride along with LaPorte Police Specialist Justin Dyer as he patrols the streets of LaPorte.

Bova said Schelstraete was brain-dead since the initial gunshot wound to his head. She recalled that first responders said he had no pulse when they first arrived to the crime scene after 7:35 p.m. near 23rd Street and 55th Avenue.

Cicero police have said the situation appeared to be a robbery-turned-shooting while Schelstraete was trying to pick up a customer. 

Schelstraete stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road when four males came out of the gangway between 5437 and 5439 West 23rd Street, according to a news release from the Town of Cicero. Authorities described the suspects as black males aged in their late teens or early 20s.

They entered his vehicle, a blue Ford Focus, and tried to carjack him when one of the males shot Schelstraete in the head, the release said. Items were also taken from the man, police reported.

The group then fled the scene heading south.

Police searched the area and arrested one juvenile male near the crime scene. Three other suspects are currently being sought.

Witnesses in the area were able to give officers descriptions of the suspects and the incident.

Authorities have not yet disclosed the exact age of the person taken into custody.

"He’s a hardworking man, he has three young kids, and he was just out trying to make a dollar," Police Chief Jerry Chlada Jr. said at a televised news conference.

Bova remembers Schelstraete as a hardworking, single father who was very engaged in the lives of his three children.

Schelstraete had two jobs — one with Uber and another with a local Cleveland-Cliffs steel mill. He spent almost all of his little free time with his children, Bova said.

He also had a terrific, dry sense of humor, his aunt said.

"Joe was just ... always smiling," she said. "There was this enthusiasm to see you and ask about you. (He was) just a very warm soul."

Bova recalled a Christmas two years ago when he displayed such exuberance at watching his children open presents that he was somewhat childlike himself.

"I just saw (him) as a very loving, engaged father," she said.

Bova said she just recently spoke with her sister, Schelstraete's mother, and other family. His mother had anticipated his death as a "much-needed" closure, she said.

"That can change hour to hour, but in that hour I was speaking with them ... it was a better place that they were in," Bova said. 

Bova said she and her family are desperately seeking answers.

Police said on May 11 there was another carjacking on this same corner, and investigators are looking into the incident to see if it was connected. No further information was immediately available as the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with surveillance footage or images in the area is urged to contact authorities. Police also asked that if anyone in the area of the shooting found discarded belongings on their property to alert police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Cicero Police Department at 708-652-2130 or the tip hotline at 708-863-2677. Individuals can also send an online tip at or can also anonymously text 847411 using the keyword, “CICERO411,” followed by a space and the tip information.

Staff writer Anna Ortiz contributed to this report.


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