Chicago police have developed “strong leads” as they investigate the shooting death of an eight-year-old girl caught in gang crossfire over the weekend.
Melissa Ortega, a third grader at Zapata Academy, was shot in the head twice, while out walking with her mother on Saturday, police said.
An alleged gang member was struck twice in the back nearby, according to an internal police report obtained by the Chicago Sun Times.
He’s in critical condition.
“It’s just unspeakable to lose the life of an eight-year-old, a little girl,” Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference on Monday, according to WLS. “The information we have is very delicate. We do have people cooperating and we have strong leads,” Brown said.
Photo: Chicago Police Department
Ortega’s mother realized her daughter was hurt after they started running towards a bank and she felt her daughter “go limp,” police said.
Investigators said that a man dressed in all black emerged from an alley near 26 street and Komensky Avenue. He then started shooting at the 26-year-old victim, identified as a member of the Gangster Two Six street gang, according to the police report.
Police said the intended target has a lengthy police record with more than a dozen arrests and has been convicted of two felonies.
More than a dozen 9mm shell casings were recovered at the scene along with one fired bullet and two bullet fragments, according to the police report.
The even was capture on video footage from police and private cameras.
A $15,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
“You took away the most beautiful thing, my reason for living, for whom I got up every day and move forward,” Aracely Leaños told Univision Network’s Despierta America in a Spanish language interview. “You took away a life full of dreams, you took away dreams from a marvelous girl.”
The family also released a statement on Monday, which said:
“Melissa had hoped for a better life here: she wanted to learn English, she wanted to experience Chicago snow, she wanted to get a build-a-bear, she wanted to make Tik Tok dances with her friends. At age 8, she was a girl full of hope and had her whole life ahead of her. She sought to achieve the American Dream but was instead given American Violence.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to pay for Melissa’s funeral expenses, which includes a burial in her hometown of Los Sauces in the Mexican state of Tabasco. More than $65,000 has already been raised.