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2013 in review: Shooting in Burr Ridge shocks community

Michael Zaky Bassaly
Built in 1980, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge draws about 800 members from communities as far as 30 miles away. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media

Burr Ridge residents awoke Thursday, Aug. 29, to news not often associated with the quiet suburb.

In the early hours of the morning, a woman was shot and killed in a Burr Ridge church parking lot. Later that same day, the dead woman’s son, 27-year-old Michael Zaky Bassaly of Downers Grove, was charged with first-degree murder.

Bassaly is accused of driving to the parking lot of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church on 79th Street at nearly 1 a.m. and firing a single shot into the head of 61-year-old Yvonne Zaky Bassaly.

Bassaly’s frantic call to Burr Ridge police was played in court the day after the shooting. He cried and pleaded during the call, during which he said, “I shot my mom. I shot her in the brain.”

The plot thickened when DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney Anne Therieau said a Burr Ridge police squad car dash camera recorded Bassaly saying, “Talk to the FBI. They know everything.”

Therieau said Bassaly, who had claimed to work as a translator for Homeland Security, was actually being investigated by the office in connection with 120 to 130 asylum applications believed to be fake. A member of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox told The Doings Aug. 29 that Bassaly had been helping members of the church with paperwork needed to gain asylum in the United States.

Several letters reportedly were found inside the car in a sealed envelope, one of which stated, “If you are reading this letter, it means I have killed my mother,” prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Marc Wolfe called what happened in the St. Mark parking lot “a terrible accident.” He claimed statements made during the 911 call were made under extreme emotional distress. He said that while being questioned by Burr Ridge police, Bassaly claimed his mother had shot herself and he had tried to stop her.

“He’s clearly a man under pressure,” Wolfe said.

Bassaly remains held without bond at the DuPage County Jail while he awaits trial.

Bassaly, a member of the Egyptian community, was not a member of the Burr Ridge church. He was, however, known to members who had hired him to help them with paperwork needed to gain asylum from Egypt.

Rebecca Michaels, an attorney for St. Mark who also helps people seeking asylum, said she began receiving calls about a month before the shooting from Egyptians concerned about the service they had obtained from Bassaly.

“I encouraged them to file a complaint with the Chicago asylum office,” she said.

Even more calls came her way after the shooting, from church members and other Egyptians who feared they were falsely represented.

By Sandy Illian Bosch

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