By TIM ROWDEN
Centreville, IL – Johnny Lee Lovett, Sr., a father and member of Iron Workers Local 392, was nearly home on Friday, Nov. 24, when he stopped to help four strangers and was robbed and fatally shot.
His wife of 25 years, Andrea Lovett, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was just one turn away from home when he stopped.
“They showed their appreciation by deciding to rob and shoot him,” she said.
Centreville Police Sgt. DeMarius Thomas said the attack happened at 54th Street and Central Avenue about 4:45 p.m. Lovett Sr.’s truck rolled off the road, struck a tree and caught fire.
Three suspects were taken into custody on a 48-hour hold and released pending further investigation. A fourth suspect remained at large.
St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. said Lovett Sr. died of gunshot wounds to his head and chest and was dead before the truck caught fire. His body was found when fire fighters extinguished the fire.
“What relieves me is that he was dead before the fire,” Andrea Lovett told the Post-Dispatch.
Lovett Sr., 60, had worked as an iron worker for 33 years and was looking forward to retiring at age 62.
Andrea Lovett said he doted on their 18-year-old son.
“The first thing he said was that his dad is going to miss his graduation,” she said.
‘A GREAT UNION MAN’
“He was a great union man and cared about his family and union members and his community very much,” Local 392 Business manager Dan “Sully” O’Sullivan said. “Iron Workers was his second family.”
O’Sullivan said it was no surprise that Lovett Sr. had stopped to help someone who looked to be in need.
“That’s just the way his was,” O’Sullivan said. “He was always there to help some people out. He was here at the union hall Friday morning. He’d just gotten laid-off from a job with a first-year apprentice and the apprentice was saying what a good guy he was and how he had really helped him out.”
Lovett Sr. had a niece and nephew who were iron workers, too.
“He’ll be missed,” O’Sullivan said. “He was good guy. A strong union man.
“I just don’t get it. He was helping some kids out and all of a sudden they shoot him.”