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Father Searches for Answers Following Shooting Death of Teen Son

By Geoff Ziezulewicz | January 12, 2013 5:58pm
 Zack Berrios, 18, was gunned down July 6 in the 10600 block of South Champlain Avenue.
Zack Berrios, 18, was gunned down July 6 in the 10600 block of South Champlain Avenue.
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CHICAGO — After his son was shot in Roseland a few years ago, Tony Berrios decided to move his family to the suburbs to avoid the violence that plagued the neighborhood.

But Berrios' son, Zack, had a hard time fitting in at his new school in Evergreen Park, and the 18-year-old was shot dead while visiting friends in the old neighborhood on July 6.

“Zack was always well-dressed, he was just one of those kids people paid attention to,” Tony Berrios said. “He stood out. He liked being around the girls all the time. I always called it jealousy on the part of the other students.”

On the night of his death, Zack Berrios was hanging out with some friends in Roseland. He called his dad and told him he had locked his keys in his car. Tony Berrios brought his son the spare.

“He patted me on the shoulder and told me, 'thank you,'” he recalled. “Those were the last words he told me.”

A few hours later, Tony Berrios got a call from a hysterical neighbor from the old neighborhood.

His boy had been shot.

He raced to the 10600 block of South Champlain Avenue, but could not get past the police tape.

“I was out there trying to get answers,” he said. "I couldn’t get anything.”

He said he still hasn’t gotten any answers — even though he's convinced the people who were with his son that night know who killed him.

“The streets talk,” Tony Berrios said. “They’re hearing it, somebody’s bragging about it. Somebody knows something.”

Tony Berrios said his son had no gang affiliation, but that some of his friends from the old neighborhood were part of a gang.

The teen had been in trouble with the law preceding his death. Zack Berrios faced aggravated battery with a weapon and other related felony charges in 2011, according to court records.

But his father said Zack Berrios enjoyed math and hoped to one day attend Chicago State University and become an accountant.

He also pledged allegiance to Chicago’s baseball, basketball and football teams, his dad said. He loved attention and being an uncle to his sister’s children and would do anything for his grandmother, Maria, who was like a mother to him.

“His grandmother was his life,” Tony Berrios said. “He would drive her to the doctor, to the grocery store. She was number one.”

Tony Berrios said the police have not been in touch about the circumstances of his son's death, but he didn't want to call detectives too much because they have a job to do and he doesn’t want to be a bother.

So he waits.

“I have yet to get a phone call from the police,” he said. “I have yet to get a call from anyone.”