Two people, including a male juvenile, have been arrested in Chicago and charged in the death of an 8-year-old girl who was fatally shot over the weekend, officials said.
Xavier Guzman, 27, and an unidentified minor were arrested by the Chicago Police for their involvement in a drive-by shooting in Little Village Saturday that resulted in the death of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega, Fox 32 of Chicago reported.
The teenager pulled the trigger at “purported gang members,” when he shot a 29-year-old man and fatally shot Ortega, who was walking down the street with her mother, the Chicago Police said, according to the report.
“Our city has been shaken, and no one can make sense of this tragedy,” Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown said during a press conference Wednesday, Fox 32 reported. “This morning, I spoke with Melissa’s mother, in her home, not only to check in on her during this especially tough time, but to also let her know we found the offenders responsible for taking Melissa’s life.”
The 16-year-old was charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm in an occupied vehicle, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, police said, according to the report, while Guzman, the driver of the car, was charged with murder, attempted murder and unlawful use of a weapon.
The unidentified victim, who was shot in the back twice in the exchange, survived, the police said. The man, who was the intended target of the gang-related shooting, is a known gang member who has been arrested 13 times and convicted of two felonies, Fox 32 reported. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for his injuries, officials said.
Araceli Leanos, Ortega’s mother, who moved to the U.S. with her daughter just six months ago, shared a statement at the press conference calling the death of her daughter “a nightmare.”
“We imagined a better life here. We came in search of the American dream we so famously hear of, but instead, I get to live a nightmare for the rest of my life,” Leanos said, Fox 32 reported.
Leanos said she forgives the juvenile shooter.
“To the aggressor, I forgive you. You were a victim too. As a 16-year-old, the community failed you, just like it failed my precious baby,” she said, according to the report.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot also spoke at the press conference, where she highlighted the continued gang violence plaguing the Little Village area.
“I’ve spoken to too many mothers in that community who have told me they’re afraid, afraid to step outside of their homes, afraid for their lives, afraid the gangs have taken over,” Lightfoot said, the Associated Press reported.