11/24/2010 09:50 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bobby Butler, Ex-Con, Gunned Down Trying To Help Woman Being Mugged

At 55, heroin addict Bobby Butler finally decided to turn his life around after years of jail and crime. Unfortunately, one act of bravery cost him his life.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler was walking home from the Central Park L stop in Lawndale Monday evening when he ran to the aide of a woman whose purse was being stolen.

From the Sun-Times:

Butler had shouted "Hey, hey!" and started to move across the street toward the robber when he was shot in the 2100 block of South Millard, according to a police report.

"There was one shot, and as the shooter ran away down the alley he was lying in the middle of the street, saying, 'I can't feel my legs!' " said a witness who spoke with police but asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

"He's a hero, regardless of his criminal record, regardless of what he did in the past," Paul Rutherford, vice chairman of Cook County Crimestoppers, told the Chicago Tribune. "He tried to prevent a robbery and gets shot. It's amazing. I'm glad that someone stepped up, and this is what the community needs."

The gunman remains at large, but Crimestoppers has pledged $1,000 for anyone who provides information that leads to his arrest and conviction.

Butler had been working at Transnational Bankcard, and warned friends about gangbangers in the neighborhood that were willing to shoot someone "over anything."

"I've never seen anyone so happy to have a paycheck and be able to pay the rent," Butler's niece, Tameka Herred, told the Sun-Times.

The woman who Butler ran to called him her "guardian angel," but was deeply distraught about his death, the Tribune reports.