About eight months after his murder, Deacon Willie Cooper’s chair is still empty at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church.
“Looking up on the chair where Deacon used to sit is something which for me is very difficult because I look over to see him and he’s not there,” Father Thomas Belanger of St. Philip Neri said.
In December, two gunmen opened fire on Cooper, 74, while he was sitting in his car on East End Avenue waiting to give a friend a ride to work.
After months of combing through evidence and a crime stoppers event, police said they found the gunmen: Mark Hall and Devin Aldridge, both 23.
“There is a sense of peace for the family members and for some of the congregants knowing that the men have been arrested, but is there any retribution or remorse with the gentleman who took his life is the question, which I doubt,” Belanger said.
Police say the two men who killed Cooper also killed a blues musician less than an hour later, just blocks away. Eric Davis, 41, used to play at Kingston Mines, whose owner Doc Pellegrino said his death was a big loss.
“They killed a guy who was a musician, a nice guy, well liked, and they killed him to get a few bucks,” Pellegrino said. “It’s a terrible crime. I hope they get life.”
Hall and Aldridge are both charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the greatly missed deacon and musician.