An 8-year-girl was reportedly killed by a stray bullet while walking with her mom on a Chicago street on Saturday, January 22. The deceased was identified as Melissa Ortega. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the incident took place at the intersection of 26th Street near Pulaski Road in Little Village just before 3 pm.
A stray bullet struck Melissa in the head was one of several rounds fired by a male suspect targeting a 26-year-old known gang member near the entrance of the Little Village branch. She was rushed to a local hospital but was declared dead. The target was also struck in the gunfire and was in a critical condition.
A witness, Oscar Guevara, told CBS Chicago that he heard multiple gunshots before coming to the injured girl's aid. "I heard the mother screaming for help. I had [a] cover, and we put it over her to keep her warm. But there was really nothing we could do," Guevara told the outlet. He added that at one point the girl tried to stand on her feet but was unable to.
According to police reports, Melissa was walking east with her mother on 26th Street near Pulaski Road when the suspect emerged from an alley nearby and opened fire. The gunfire fatally hit Melissa twice in the head along with injuring the intended target.
Investigators, after reviewing the surveillance video, determined that the 26-year-old victim was a member of the Gangster Two Six street gang. After getting hit, the victim started running east on 26th Street as the shooter continued to unload.
Officers responded to reports of shooting at the corner of 26th and Pulaski and transported Melissa to Stroger Hospital, where she was declared dead two hours later. The intended target, whose identity is not clear has been arrested 13 times and convicted of two felonies. He was struck twice in the back and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition.
Police have not been able to establish a motive behind the shooting but noted that the victim's gang had a dispute with both the Latin Saints and Latin Kings. The shooter, whose identity is not known, ran south on Komensky Avenue after the shooting.
According to a police report obtained by the Sun-Times, investigators found 13 shell casings at the scene. Ortega's family set up a GoFundMe page to help cover her funeral expenses. Melissa and her mother had emigrated from Mexico in August to start a new life in America. The duo was 'excited to start a new life in Chicago and build their American Dream,' the fundraiser page's organizer wrote.