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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

8-year-old girl mortally wounded by stray bullet in Chicago identified

Tatiana Turner
From the Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO. On Saturday afternoon, 8-year-old Melissa Ortega was walking with her mother in their Little Village community. The next time shots were fired, the mother and daughter took off running, trying to escape to safety in a nearby bank.

But it was too late.

One of those bullets had already hit Melissa in the head as the couple walked down the 3900 block of West 26th Street at 2:45 p.m., according to Chicago police. She was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead at 4:43 pm.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified her Sunday morning as Melissa Ortega, 8, from the 2800 block of South Tripp Avenue, also in Little Village.

Police said the shooter did not aim at Melissa, who was a third grade student at the Emiliano Zapata Academy, or at her mother. Authorities said the shooter intended to harm a 26-year-old man who was exiting a store near where Melissa and her mother were standing.

A 26-year-old man was also shot in the lower back and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition; Officials did not have an update on his condition on Sunday morning.

Melissa and her mother moved to Chicago in August after emigrating from Mexico, according to an online fundraising page set up to offset funeral expenses. The GoFundMe page says Melissa will be buried in her hometown of Los Sauces in the Mexican state of Tabasco.

“They were both excited to start a new life in Chicago and build their American dream. It was an honor to meet Melissa and I will always remember her beautiful smile,” wrote the creator of the page.

Melissa Ortega in a file photo. (GoFundMe)

A GoFundMe spokesperson has confirmed the page’s validity, ensuring that more than $38,000 raised as of Sunday evening — more than $18,000 on top of what the site originally intended to raise — will go to Melissa’s relatives, as intended.

In a statement, the Chicago Teachers’ Union deplored the shooting of another innocent child and expressed its condolences to Ortega’s family and all those who knew Melissa from Zapata Academy, stating that he “sends his love to Melissa’s family and the Zapata Academy community and wishes them peace and healing.” from this heartbreaking tragedy.

The union also condemned the ongoing violence in the city.

“Our union mourns the loss of another student from one of our school communities. This suffering is becoming all too familiar to the many children and families of Chicago that our educators nurture and support every day,” CTU spokesperson Ronnie Reese said in a statement.

No one has been arrested and investigators are continuing to investigate.

© 2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tribune News Service

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