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EAST ST. LOUIS — When Andre Bennett got a knock at his door from Illinois State Police on Monday around 8:30 a.m, he knew it couldn't be anything good.

He thought to himself that the troopers were at his Belleville home because of one of his sons, but that was just a thought. They asked him a few more questions, then delivered the devastating news: his youngest son was dead.

NeVar Bennett had been shot to death as he sat in his car in the 600 block of North 23rd Street in East St. Louis. He was 39 years old.

"God covered me and put me in his corner," Andre Bennett said. "The news was tough. It hit me in my heart. I love my son and not having him around anymore is something I will have to live with. But, I have God. He will provide the strength to go forward."

No one has been charged in the slaying of Bennett, who lived at 5510 Rosemont Ave. in Washington Park.

East St. Louis and Illinois State police are jointly investigating the case.

East St. Louis officers found Bennett in his car. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:40 a.m., said St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye.

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A woman was taken from the scene by police, but investigators are not saying whether she was connected to the shooting.

Police have not released any more information.

Bennett was celebrating Mother's Day with family and having a good time when he was shot, his father said. No one expected him to be plucked from the family.

Now, it will forever be marred with the tragic way his son lost his life, Andre Bennett said.

Bennett has four sons and a daughter. Describing his youngest son, Bennett said: "NeVar was a very kind person. He would do anything he could to help anyone who needed his help, even when he was short himself."

Bennett said he and other family members know the person who is responsible for their loved one's death. They are hopeful that person will be held accountable.

"We know we can't get him back, but his life mattered. He has lots of family and we all loved him. He is really going to be missed," Bennett said. "This is tough, numbing.

"We need justice so the family can have some closure. We know NeVar won't be coming back, but his life mattered."

When NeVar Bennett was younger, he made some bad decisions and made some mistakes, but he paid "whatever debt he owed to society," his father said.

"He grew up and took on his responsibilities as a man. He had settled down. He had a house. He was doing good with his life. He should still be alive," Andre Bennett said. "My heart is broken into many pieces. NeVar is a part of me and I must get justice for him because he is not here to fight for justice for himself."

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This article originally ran on pantagraph.com.

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