SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A man arrested in Springfield after authorities say he shot an Illinois State Police trooper may be linked to a deadly shooting in Chicago.
ISP said the suspect, 37-year-old Cristobal Santana, was believed to be wanted in connection with a recent homicide in the city. The family of Adriana Lopez believes Santana is responsible for her death.
“I still can’t accept it,” said Michelle Martinez, the niece of Lopez. “I’m in denial. She was a very happy soul. She always found a solution to everything. She was like a mom to me. She was my best friend.”
In a phone interview with WGN News, Martinez said her aunt took pride in being a teacher. Lopez spent the last three years teaching special education at Nathan Davis Elementary School in Brighton Park.
She aspired to be a principal.
“An amazing educator,” said Nathan Davis Elementary School principal Francisco Oliva Gonzalez. “The parents and the students gravitated to her. They loved her.”
Around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Lopez was shot and killed just steps away from her home near 54th and Narragansett in Garfield Ridge. According to police, she was approached by a man she knew in a dark-colored SUV and shot at least 10 times.
Martinez said Santana was Lopez’s ex-boyfriend.
“They were dating for about a year and a half,” she said. “They actually broke up about three months ago.”
Martinez said Lopez feared for her safety and filed an order of protection against Santana last month after an argument turned physical. According to Martinez, the filing was recently dismissed for reasons unknown.
Despite relief that Santana is now in police custody, Martinez told WGN News that she is left with more questions than answers. Investigators have not publicly stated that Santana is responsible for Lopez’s death.
“Police has not reached out to me,” Martinez said.
A vigil for Lopez is planned for next week.