BRIGHTON PARK — When Priscilla Mercado was just 15 years old, it fell on her to care for her three younger siblings.
Their mother had abandoned them and their father, the man who cared for them, had passed away, said Mercado’s aunt, Paula Ortiz.
“Everything was left on her … she had a lot of responsibility,” Ortiz said of Mercado, who was shot and killed April 6. “She wanted to do it because they didn’t have anybody else.”
They lived in poverty, despite Mercado’s work as a waitress at various Brighton Park restaurants, Ortiz said.
“She wanted better for them,” Ortiz said of Mercado's interest in her siblings. “She wanted them to go to school and she wanted to have things.”
But life was rough for Mercado. She was sentenced to two years in prison after her involvement in an apparent armed robbery. Though the 2010 armed robbery charges were dropped, Mercado was convicted of battery in which she harmed a merchant, according to court records.
She also had a 2010 misdemeanor shoplifting conviction, court records show.
Ortiz said her 28-year-old niece had been recently released from prison and was staying with friends and family in the 4000 block of South Albany Avenue while she got settled, Ortiz said.
Mercado and two teenage girls gathered on the second-story balcony of the home April 6. They had been up there for an hour or two, and Mercado was leaning on the ledge of the balcony, drinking a beer and smoking cigarettes when a gunman shot up into the balcony, according to Ortiz and published reports.
The teenage girls grabbed each other, Ortiz said.
“When they went to grab Priscilla’s arm she had fallen on her face,” Ortiz said.
“They were aiming for somebody up at that porch,” Ortiz said, though she doesn’t believe the bullets were intended for Mercado.
Mercado was pronounced dead at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“Everything in her life was so hard, but she managed to keep going,” Ortiz said.