Mike Fakhouri sat inside Phoenix Liquor all day on July 21. He got there at 6:30 in the morning and stayed until 8 p.m. He intended on re-opening the store, which had been closed since late on July 9, the night his brother was robbed and gunned down inside the business.

But he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“I couldn’t open the door,” said Fakhouri, whose voice still choked with emotion as he talked about his older brother, Bob, two weeks after his death.

Police have no suspects at this time.

“He was just a year and a half older than me, but he was like my father figure,” said Mike Fakhouri on Thursday afternoon, the day he got up the nerve to open the lock on the front door. “He handled everything. I hope I never disappoint him.”

Bob Fakhouri was alone, just about to close down for the night on July 9 when two men walked into the store and robbed it at gunpoint. Before leaving, one of the men fired a single shot, hitting Bob Fakhouri in the head, killing him.

“It was a ruthless killing, a pointless killing,” said Mike. “I do not wish this on my worst enemies.”

Mike spent a week in his native Jordan, accompanying his brother’s body there for burial. He joined Bob’s wife and two children, ages 4 and 2. His job now, he said, is to provide for them. The decision to reopen the store was a simple one.

“If that’s what it takes to take care of his family, I’ll be here 40 years,” Mike said. “It’s our family. I have to do it for him. That’s what’s going to keep me going and keep me strong.”

On Thursday, Mike was still getting his bearings. A call from the ATM machine vendor led Mike to ask the caller to send over a rep to show him how to handle the machine. Bob had done that in the past.

Mike was also in the midst of hiring the store’s first extra employee – he and Bob had traded shifts since the store opened in 2005 at 8814 Ogden Ave. No more would anyone work alone, he said.

“Before we thought it was safe to leave,” Mike said. “Now we can’t.”

And all of the security measures the brothers had kicked around – motion-detected lighting, cameras – that’ll need to be installed as soon as possible.

“Everything we talked about, we’re gonna have to do it,” Mike said.

Part of the reason the killing was so shocking, he said, was that the area was so safe. This wasn’t the brothers’ first business. They had operated other grocery/liquor businesses on Chicago’s south and southeast sides.

“It was safe,” Mike said. “It’s been a slice of heaven until he passed in Brookfield.”

There had been no problems, he said.

“We never had a hiccup,” Mike said. “All the customers were known to us and were polite. We never even had a theft here.”

Police in Brookfield and across Custer Avenue in Lyons say that while the area immediately surrounding the liquor store had experienced problems in the past, in recent years crime has not been particularly troubling.

In the 1990s, the corner of Custer and Ogden was the site of two homicides and the focal point of a local firestorm over a sex-toy business. All of the incidents revolved around a non-descript brick building on the southeast corner of Ogden and Custer in Lyons.

In 1991, two men were stabbed, one fatally, outside the building, then known as Sock Hops tavern. In 1994, the bar was known as Johnny Ringo’s, a biker hangout, when Gary Stoiber burst in and shot up the bar, killing his girlfriend, who was tending bar.

Later in the decade, in 1998, two people sought to open a business known as Dottie’s Dress Shop at the same location. However, when the business was about to open, a sign outside let people know that it was “Seka’s Exotica Life Style Clothing and Accessories” – Seka being the screen name of legendary porn star Dorothea Patton. A village inspector observed that most of the items for sale were sex toys and other paraphernalia, and the village of Lyons refused to let the business open. The couple sued and initially won the case, but the decision was overturned on appeal.

Most recently, the building has been home to a medical billing service.

“It’s been relatively quiet since the taverns shuttered,” said Lyons police Commander Brian Kuratko.

Since 2000, the area has seen sporadic violence. A now-shuttered jewelry store was robbed just east of Custer Avenue several years ago, and in 2007 a teenager was stabbed in the alley between Custer and Grove avenues, south of Ogden, in Brookfield.

Brookfield police termed that incident gang-related and the victim lived above a business in the 8800 block of Ogden Avenue. Since the victim, an alleged gang member moved away, said Brookfield police Lt. Edward Petrak, things have quieted down.

“I don’t see that there’s that big a difference between that corner and any other moving down Ogden in either direction,” Petrak said.

Tom Lupfer, a Brookfield resident who owns a landscaping business on Ogden Avenue on the Lyons side of Custer, had his business burglarized twice in recent years. Since putting up surveillance cameras, he said the problem has been remedied.

However, he’d still like police to find a way to discourage the kind of random crime that killed Bob Fakhouri.

“What I would like to see is a strategy to make it not look like we’re easy targets,” Lupfer said. “Rather than say it was random, I’d like to see police use it as a way to up the visibility. They need to respond to something like this with new energy and community outreach.”