CHICAGO — Just two months before he was killed at a River North gas station, Eric Lopez, 20, moved from Puerto Rico back to his birthplace of Chicago to get to know his birth parents.
“He wanted to know his real parents, me and his mom, so he came to live with us,” said father Luis Rivera. “I was proud to be a father again. I was just getting to know him all over again.”
Lopez was stabbed to death during an early morning fight on Aug. 4 at a River North gas station in the 600 block of North LaSalle Street, according to his family and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. When authorities arrived on scene, they found pieces of the rosary he always wore strewn next to his body, Rivera said.
The youngest of six children, Lopez had been put up for adoption because his parents felt they didn’t have the means to support him.
Last year, Lopez and his adoptive parents visited Chicago to meet his birth parents and relatives. With the blessing of his adoptive parents, who live in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Lopez asked Rivera if he could move in with them.
“We would call each other and he would say, ‘I love you guys. I know I’m supposed to be somewhere else," Rivera said.
Lopez found a part-time job working at a horse stable in southern Wisconsin. The night before his death, Lopez told his father that he was going to be hired on permanently.
“The lady who owned the stables really liked him,” Rivera said. “Apparently he was funny and a hard worker. She liked that.”
Rivera said his son was someone who could charm anyone and make friends by the dozens, and that his death was likely the result of thinking that friendliness could help solve a bad situation.
Though Lopez’s adoptive parents took his body back to Puerto Rico to be buried, he left behind an impression on his family and friends in Chicago.
“He was still trying to find himself,” Rivera said. “He basically wanted to be with us, and was going to take his life from there. I know he was 20, but he was our baby still.”