Fugitive of 1979 murder arrested at O’Hare

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A former Chicago store owner charged with fatally shooting a man who stole a can of beer in 1979 was arrested at O’Hare International Airport after returning to the area 34 years later to attend a graduation, authorities said.

Ata Yousef El Ammouri, 65, was wanted on warrants alleging murder and bail jumping, and was ordered held without bail on Saturday when he appeared in bond court, according to a release from the Cook County sheriff’s office.

El Ammouri is accused of fatally shooting Joe Harris, 31, on July 22, 1979 when Harris walked out of El Ammouri’s store on the 500 block of East 67th Street without paying for a can of beer, the release said.

After he was charged with murder, El Ammouri posted a $100,000 bail, authorities said. In November 1979 he failed to show up for court and was named in fugitive arrest warrants for murder and jumping bail.

On Friday about 5 p.m., members of the sheriff’s Central Warrant Unit took El Ammouri into custody at O’Hare after he arrived from Jordan, where he resides, the sheriff’s office said. He was traveling to the U.S. to attend a graduation, but the sheriff’s office did not release additional details.

The investigation involved coordination between various federal and state law enforcement agencies across two countries, the sheriff’s office said, specifically mentioning help from the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service.

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