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Store owner leaves impact on community

On Feb. 14, the Calumet Park neighborhood suffered a senseless tragedy that rippled throughout the community, causing residents lose one of the only stores in the vicinity but also a family member and friend.

Patricia Underwood, affectionately known as Ms. Pat throughout the community, was struck by a stray bullet while inside her business, Pat’s Corner Store, after a shooting incident that took place outside of her store.

Just outside the store, located maybe 100 steps from Calumet Park at the intersection of Union and Ware Streets, was where two individuals got into an altercation, which elevated to the point of one of the men brandishing a firearm and firing at another individual. One of the victims in this incident was lucky — he was only shot in the shoulder. Ms. Pat suffered a much worse fate as she was unsuspectingly working in her store when a bullet penetrated the wall and fatally struck her.  

When the LaGrange Police Department arrived on the scene soon after the shooting, they found Ms. Pat inside her store at about 10 p.m.

Allegedly, the shooter was Andreco Darnell Parham. He was arrested later that night by the LaGrange Police Department and charged with murder.

Since then, the Calumet community has taken steps to band together to cry, laugh and share memories about Underwood but also with an underlying theme that things must get better.

We are encouraged by the conversation spearheaded by the Calumet Park Neighborhood Association. Co-board chairman Dr. Robert Tucker hosted a closed meeting for residents of the community to share their feeling and reactions to the incident just two days afterward. We think that’s a good move because people needed to talk about what happened.

This past weekend the community gathered again for a candlelight vigil and balloon release at the store. During that time, there was talk about revitalizing the store and keeping it in the community. Members of the association also said there are counseling opportunities for residents through the Calumet Center for Healing and Attachment at no cost. The counselors are people who were raised in the area, understand the issues facing the community and are willing to help. We suggest anyone who is having trouble dealing with the fallout from this incident to take them up on their offer. It’s free, and all it takes is a phone call to set up an appointment.

Throughout this unfortunate process, we’ve gotten to learn a bit about Ms. Pat. We learned that if residents didn’t have enough money to buy goods for their family, she would take down their name and ask them to pay her back later. She kept accounts on customers but operated in good faith that she would get paid later because she knew families needed to be fed.

According to her nephew Johnathon Mooty, who traveled to LaGrange from Houston, Texas, to attend the funeral and handle family business, she was also invested in the education of young children.

He told a story about how she asked the children in the neighborhood what would help them get better grades in school. She was told being open before school, so the children could buy candy on their way. The grades did improve but hilariously Ms. Pat also started receiving calls from teachers to ask that she stop letting the kids buy candy before school.

We can tell Ms. Pat had a significant impact on the Calumet community, and it’ll take some time before residents can fully recover. It’s clear she will be missed.