Teen Killed 14-Year-Old Boy to Avenge Father's Death, Prosecutors Allege
COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Two gangbangers were charged with murder Tuesday after prowling the streets of the Heart of Chicago neighborhood, looking for someone to kill to avenge the death of one of their fathers, prosecutors said.
They found a group of kids headed to an ice cream shop and fired, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding a 13-year-old girl, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the Garzas, whose relationship was not disclosed, are both Latin Saint gang members. Damien Garza has large gang tattoos on both sides of his face.
On Sunday, they allegedly were driving around in Satan Disciple territory looking for rival gang members to shoot.
Damien Garza, in a videotaped confession, said Javier Garza told him just before the shooting that he wanted to "smoke an SD" as payback for his father's death, prosecutors alleged in court.
And before firing the shots at the group, Javier Garza repeatedly shouted "DK" — for "Disciple Killer," prosecutors said.
Javier Garza's father, also Javier Garza, was gunned down on Sept. 7, 2001, while driving in a van, a source said.
The senior Garza was 27 when he died of a gunshot wound to the side, a source said.
Sunday's slaying was in the 2200 block of South Leavitt Street about 4:30 p.m., Assistant State's Attorney Joell Zahr said Tuesday.
The Garzas, in a green minivan headed north, rolled past the group, stopped and backed up, she said.
Javier Garza flashed gang signs and then jumped out through the sliding door to open fire, she said.
Orozco was hit three times in the back. A 13-year-old girl was grazed in the right leg by a bullet, Zahr said. The group ran to escape the gunfire, but Orozco stumbled and fell. He was still on the ground when an ambulance arrived.
Javier and Damien Garza allegedly made their escape by driving east on Cermak Road, but a witness got the license plate of the van and called 911.
Police were chasing the suspects within minutes of the shooting. Damien Garza, the alleged driver, crashed the van in the area of 1645 W. Cermak Road, Zahr said. Police found a handgun behind the driver's seat. It had a live round in the chamber and five more rounds in the magazine.
Police also found shell casings and bullet fragments at the scene of the shooting.
In his confession, Damien Garza identified the recovered gun as the one used in the shooting, Zahr said.
Prosecutors said there was no shortage of witnesses. Javier Garza, prosecutors said, was positively identified by multiple witnesses as the person who fired the shots and entered the green van.
Damien Garza also was positively identified by multiple witnesses as the driver of that green van, prosecutors said.
The two suspects appeared in Cook County Bond Court Tuesday, charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Damien Garza also faces charges of driving without a license or insurance and reckless driving.
Family members of both men declined to comment at the hearing.
Cook County Public Defender Marijane Placek questioned the whereabouts of a third person in the van at the time of the shooting.
Police said Tuesday a third suspect was released without being charged.
Javier Garza, of the 2900 block of North 75th Court, was ordered held without bail. Bail for Damien Garza, who police said lives in the 4500 block of South Wood Street, was set at $1 million.
At Orozco's family's home in Pilsen, his uncle, Jose Correa, and his friends challenged police statements that the slain teen was a gang member.
"He wasn't about that life — he was a positive kid with a positive vibe," Correa said of his nephew, who loved spaghetti and meatballs and was a "big flirt."
"That's on behalf of the whole family — this is to clear his name," he added, drawing a comparison between gang members and Orozco's young friends. "Do these kids look like bangers to you?"
Eliseo Barrera, 14, a close friend of Orozco, said Orozco simply ran into the wrong crowd, kids who he would have inevitably come across at school and in the neighborhood.
"It's that pressure, when [gangs] ask you," he said. "But truly, in his heart, that wasn't who he was or was going to be."
At a vigil for Orozco Monday night, about 10 kids gathered around candles in the shape of a cross.
"They got another one," Giselle Serrano, a 16-year-old who is all too familiar with gun violence, said before charges were announced.
She and her friend were shot in December in the same neighborhood. Orozco lived just down the street from her, and she had known him for a while, Giselle said. Giselle said she and her friends would try to raise money for Orozco's family.
"He was a good kid," she said.