William "Christopher" Pettry, 42, was a resident of Lake Villa, Ill., and a longtime Chicago Bears fan. He was in Jacksonville last Sunday to watch his team, which wound up beating the Jaguars, 41-3. Hours before the game, however, Pettry went to an Irish restaurant and bar called Fionn MacCool's in the Jacksonville area, and he was stabbed to death there by 28-year-old Matthew Hinson, according to police.
Hinson has confessed to the crime, but with the cruel aftermath left for Pettry's family to address, the Bears very much want to help. Tight end Kellen Davis, in particular, has gone out of his way to provide as much aid as he possibly can. Davis, who didn't know Pettry before his passing, has set up a fundraiser this Saturday in Chicago for Pettry's family, and he has set up a website where people can donate if they would like. Team items will be auctioned off at the fundraiser.
Pettry had a wife and three children, and he was his family's sole breadwinner, working up to 20 hours per day as a contractor so that his wife could stay home with the kids. In an exclusive interview with Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, Karen Pettry said that the support of the Bears organization has been a lifeline as she tries to deal with the senseless death of her husband.
"It's shocking. I feel like I'm going to wake up from this dream and it's going to get back to normal. But I can't believe this is happening. My kids don't have a daddy, and I don't have a husband anymore.
"It's been very stressful for us, but I can't thank everyone enough for helping my family. I can't believe it."
"My heart goes out to the Pettry family that lost their loved one over a senseless act," Davis said. "I wanted to show my support when I heard about this, so I started a donation page and am participating in a fundraiser that my team helped put together."
Davis' effort, which will involve current and former Bears, has overwhelmed those who were close to Mr. Pettry.
"Our whole family has been reached out to by [people in] Jacksonville, Fla., and the penultimate has been being reached out to by players who are taking time out of their own lives and families to help us, and we're just so overwhelmed with gratitude," Veronica Pettry, Pettry's sister, said. "Of course Chicago is an amazing town. It may be a big city, but it's a big city with heart.
"What happened to my brother was a horrible act of violence, but I don't want one man's decision to underscore the amount of love that so many people in Chicago, Jacksonville and Denver have for a fellow human being."
Veronica Pettry is a former Chicago police sergeant who now lives in Denver.
Former Bears Tommie Harris and Jason McKie are planning to attend. ESPN Chicago mentioned that the news hit McKie particularly hard because McKie's son plays in the same youth football league as one of Pettry's sons.
"Family life is so precious and to think that a life was taken like that, it's just not right," McKie said. "We want to help the family out any way we can. I mean, who is going to help this family take care of their bills now that the main provider is gone? And to leave a wife like that with children, it's tragic. Bears players, past and present, want to show our support. They are from Lake Villa; we are from Gurnee. It's basically right up the road. The goal is to show support and raise some money for this family in a timely manner."
Current Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has pledged to help the Pettry family with whatever they need.
"She was concerned about not having a job," Marshall told Jensen. "I told her to take her time and get through this. Use the people around her. Use us to breathe and take the time she needs and be there for her children. Don't worry about any of that because we got her."
If you would like to know more about the fundraiser, you can do so here.