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Chicago - A man was shot and killed as he rushed to protect his 17-year-old niece who was being sexually assaulted in the bedroom of their home in the Burnside neighbourhood on the South Side Thursday night, according to Chicago police.

A suspect - a 25-year-old man with a minor arrest record - was taken into custody by officers who responded to the attack about 9pm in the 500 block of East 89th Place, police said.

The attacker entered the home through a window, then tied up the niece in her bedroom and sexually assaulted her, police said. Her uncle, 66, heard her screaming and went to the room, where the attacker shot him in the back and the head.

The uncle was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His niece went to Advocate Trinity Hospital and was stabilized.

Eugene Booze, who said he has lived next door to the family for about 35 years, said that the uncle was "the best neighbour in the world, a very nice man".

Booze was in his living room playing dominoes with fellow bus driver retirees at the time of the attack. He said he didn't realize anything was going on until his wife noticed a large police presence in their backyard and in the gangway between his home and the home where the alleged assault took place.

He said that there is "not too much drama in this neighbourhood" and couldn't remember any other shootings taking place on the block.

Police said charges were pending against the man in custody.