CHICAGO — A 16-year-old boy and a man have been charged in connection with the deadly shooting of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega in Little Village last weekend.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Chicago police Supt. David Brown announced the alleged shooter is a 16-year-old boy and was charged with first-degree murder. Additionally, the alleged driver Xavier Guzman, 27, was also charged with first-degree murder.
Guzman was arrested Monday in the 4300 block of South California and the 16-year-old boy was arrested Tuesday in the 3000 block of South Drake Avenue.
Guzman and the teen are also facing attempted murder and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charges. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said the 16-year-old alleged shooter will be tried as an adult.
A wake for the child, whose family moved to the United States from Mexico six months ago, was scheduled to be held at a Southwest Side funeral home Wednesday afternoon, sources said.
Around 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Melissa was walking with her mother near the intersection of 26th Street and Pulaski Road when she was shot in the head. She was pronounced dead less than two hours later at Stroger Hospital.
Brown said the gunfire was meant for three gang members who were standing on the corner of 26th Street and Komensky Avenue. A 29-year-old man was also shot in the incident.
“Our city has been shaken and no one can make sense of this tragedy,” Brown said.
Family pastor the Rev. Matt DeMateo read a written statement from Ortega’s mother — who chastised the community for creating conditions for violence, offered forgiveness to the shooter, and delivered a howling rebuke of the media.
“Even with the immense sorrow I have been feeling this week, the media has forced me to make a statement with their nonstop calls and knocks on the door,” the mother wrote. “Words cannot describe the pain I am feeling. On Jan. 22, I lost my greatest treasure in life, I lost my princess she was the reason why I got up every morning. Everything I did, I did for her.”
The statement also detailed the moment the child lost her life.
“My daughter stopped holding my hand and without explanation, I found her on the floor with a puddle of blood and a bullet to her head,” the letter said.
A vigil for Melissa was held Sunday at the scene of the shooting.
“I’m a firm believer when one mother is grieving, we should all be grieving,” Marisol Cruz, a vigil attendee said. “That could very easily have been my child or someone else. At some point, we need to come together and find a solution. Something needs to be done. We’ve normalized this and our city is so much better than this.”
Melissa attended Zapata Academy in Little Village, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.
“This suffering is becoming all too familiar for many of Chicago’s children and families, who our educators nurture and support every day,” the union said in a statement. “The Chicago Teachers Union sends its love to Melissa’s family and the Zapata Academy community, and wish them peace and healing from this heartbreaking tragedy.”
A GoFundMe for the family has raised over $70,000 at this time. Both suspects will appear in bond court at 11 a.m. on Thursday.