Family of tenant shot, killed by high-rise neighbor sues landlord

Abnerd Joseph’s family accuses ownership, management, security, as well as shooter, of wrongful death and negligence; no arrest has been made

Family of Tenant Killed in Chicago High-Rise Sues Avison Young
Abnerd Joseph and 60 East Monroe Street (Facebook, VHT Studios)

The family of Abnerd Joseph, an assistant school principal who was shot and killed in a Loop multifamily tower on Sept. 14, has taken legal action, as no arrest has been made.

Joseph’s family sued the ownership of the Legacy at Millennium Park, at 60 East Monroe. The lawsuit also names the building’s management and security companies, as well as the tenant who shot Joseph, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The lawsuit, filed by Joseph’s brother, Jay Charles, includes counts of wrongful death and negligence.

Joseph was allegedly shot seven times by a neighbor in the hallway of the 72-story condo/apartment tower’s 48th floor, suffering gunshots to his chest, abdomen, flank, an armpit and a ring finger. He was 32. 

No criminal charges have been filed against the neighbor — identified in the lawsuit as Garrett Mark Smith — who claimed self-defense. Also named in the suit are Sudler Property Management and security firm Universal Protection Service.

Represented by attorney Antonio Romanucci, the family questioned why building security and neighbors followed Joseph through the building after calling the police on him. Romanucci claims that a security guard accompanied two neighbors, one armed, “to find and hunt” Joseph, leading to his death.

According to a police report, Joseph, who lived on the 29th floor, was in emotional distress, knocking on doors and attempting to enter apartments while yelling incoherently. The report states that Joseph struck the doorman and a tenant who tried to calm him, leading another tenant to warn Joseph that he was armed. When Joseph allegedly charged at the armed tenant, the tenant opened fire, resulting in Joseph’s death from multiple gunshot wounds.

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Romanucci called the shooting an excessive response to Joseph’s behavior, even if he had been aggressive. 

“It doesn’t matter to our lawsuit at all, because even if there was some sort of physical aggression on Abnerd’s part, what we’re saying is, what you do in that situation is you step back and you deescalate and you give time,” Romanucci told the outlet.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Chicago police said the investigation is ongoing. The family has yet to see surveillance footage of the incident.

Joseph was an assistant principal at Intrinsic Schools’ downtown campus, at 79 West Monroe Street. He moved to Chicago from Atlanta in 2022 and was one of seven siblings. 

—Quinn Donoghue and Rachel Stone

Correction: Because of an error in a news release, the landlord was misidentified in an earlier version of this story. The ownership of the building is unclear.

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