Evanston is mourning the death of Omar Estrada, who was shot Thursday while sitting on a park bench in Rogers Park.
Here is a profile of Estrada from the Chicago Tribune:
By Jonathan Bullington and Erin Meyer
The last time his family saw Omar Estrada, he was headed to a North Side park to meet a girl.
“He said, ‘I’ll be back soon,’ ” said his stepfather, Luis Gutierrez.
Hours later the family learned the 18-year-old had been shot in the head and was on life support in a hospital.
“We saw all the bleeding,” Gutierrez said today. “Doctors said his brain was dead already.”
Estrada was sitting on a bench in Touhy Park, 7348 N. Paulina St., with two girls at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday when gunshots were fired from the north, according to a police report. One of the girls looked down and saw Estrada had been shot, police said.
Estrada, of the 1500 block of Howard Street in Evanston, was pronounced dead just before 6 a.m. today at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
“He would make anyone smile,” said his sister, Kimberly Gervacio, 15, adding that Estrada never got in trouble. “He was a happy kid.”
Estrada’s family was left searching for answers Friday.
“I don’t know why he went there yesterday,” Gutierrez said.
He said Estrada never went to the park where he was shot. But apparently, on Thursday, he went there to meet a girl.
They learned Estrada had been shot in the head only after detectives called them and the family went to the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital. When he arrived, Luis said many police officers were at the hospital, but no one told the family anything. Finally, they were ushered into the room where Estrada was being treated.
Some of the teens who were with Estrada said they did not realize what they heard were gunshots until they saw Estrada had been shot, Gutierrez said.
“They said they heard three to four shots but they thought they were firecrackers,” he said. “Then they saw him on the ground, still holding his bicycle.
“He was always joking, always happy. He always said I love you to his mother, even when he went to the laundry room,” said Gutierrez said, fighting back tears as he spoke in the hallway outside the family’s apartment. “I think maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Police, who reported Estrada had no criminal record and no gang affiliations, had no motive for the shooting. Police said Touhy Park has not been the scene of such an incident in a long time.
“Basically, that area up there has been relatively quiet for the last couple of years,” Belmont Area Deputy Chief of Patrol Bruce Rottner said. “Violence has been at a minimum, especially in that park.”
While police have seen street gangs, the Latin Kings and La Raza, in the area, “there has not been a lot of gang activity,” he said.
Rottner said extra police officers have been directed to the area.
Neighborhood residents contacted today also said the park is not a trouble spot.
Tony Iniquez, 74, the president of the Touhy Park Advisory Council, said that usually at 7:45 p.m. on a nice night, the park will be filled with people. Attacks like Estrada’s shooting are rare in and around the park.
“We’re relatively safe, and all the reports from the [Rogers Park Police] District are good,” Iniquez said.
Estrada wasn’t someone who Iniquez had seen in the park before, but teens do not tend to spend much time in Touhy park, usually leaving after spending a little time there.
“They’ll just hang out for 5 to 10 minutes and then leave,” said Iniquez, who said he has been trying to expand offerings for teens at Touhy.
“The Park District has been very good – we work in partnership,” Iniquez said. “There aren’t any altercations or anything like that” in the park on a regular basis.
Iniquez said residents near the park and many who were in the park at the time of the shooting claim not to have seen anything, some of them because of Thursday’s night’s fog. But the lack of information about what happened could be more about fear, he said.
“When something happens, everyone clams up,” Iniquez said.
An Evanston Township High School spokeswoman did not return repeated calls and emails for comment. Evanston Township School District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said in a statement posted on the district’s Web site that Estrada “had attended Evanston Township High School earlier in the year,” but did not clarify if he was still enrolled there at the time of his death. Students were read a message about Estrada’s death during their 7th period, according to the statement