SOUTH LAWNDALE — Rogelio Cervantes' family said he was a gangster with a history of violence and drug dealing.
But they also said he was trying to turn his life around before he was fatally shot.
“Even though whatever his background says, or what police say about him … the people that mourn are the parents and the family,” said Esther Cervantes, Rogelio’s aunt. “It affects all of us.”
The Little Village man was shot and killed Feb. 19 in the 2800 block of West 25th Street, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Esther Cervantes said her nephew, 27, was in riding a car when “somebody got in the side of the car and started throwing gang signs.” Rogelio was killed and another person in the car was hit and is now partially paralyzed, Esther Cervantes said.
“We're still kind of in the dark,” she said. “We don’t know what happened.”
Cervantes was a member of the Latin Kings street gang, his aunt said.
When he was 12, Cervantes was kicked out of his mother’s house, his aunt said. And when he was 17, his father was deported to Michoacan, Mexico, she said.
“He’s by himself,” Esther Cervantes said. "What else is he going to turn to?”
Cervantes had a lengthy arrest record and several convictions, including multiple convictions for drug-related charges, according to court records. He also was convicted of damaging property while an arson charge was dropped, according to court records. He had been in prison.
But the father of two girls, ages 7 and less than a year old, had been trying to reject his past lifestyle, Esther Cervantes said. Cervantes was learning to drive a truck and had started going back to karate, a sport he loved and excelled in, his aunt said.
“Since his second daughter was born, he was getting away from all that,” she said.