LOGAN SQUARE — Eugenio Solano's family had planned to spend Saturday hosting a birthday party for the man's 4-year-old son.
Instead, they gathered on a Logan Square sidewalk to mourn the 23-year-old father, who had been gunned down there the night before.
According to Officer Amina Greer, a police spokeswoman, Solano was walking along the 1800 block of North Francisco Avenue with a 44-year-old man — who a neighbor identified as Solano’s stepfather — when three people approached the pair.
The offenders allegedly asked for directions, before pulling a gun and opening fire, Greer said. Solano was shot in the chest about 8 p.m., while the 44-year-old sustained a gunshot wound to his hand.
Solano was pronounced dead at 12:50 a.m. by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
There wasn’t a dry eye Saturday as loved ones remembered Solano. Several women lit candles. Others hung balloons with messages like "I love you, Eugenio" or "Thinking of you." Friends swigged cans of Solano's favorite beer, Budweiser. His mother wailed for her son.
“Mi hijo, mi hijo,” she cried in Spanish, as several women from the neighborhood wrapped their arms around her.
Solano’s sister, Jessica Calderon, hung a homemade sign that said “R.I.Paradise.”
His mother kissed a photo of Solano and said, “Damn those who did this to you.”
Police believe the shooting was gang-related, Greer said, but don't have anyone in custody as of Saturday. Area North detectives are investigating.
“[Solano] was a very happy boy — especially when he was with his son,” said Rosa Hernandez, 46, a neighbor and family friend.
Hernandez said Solano could often be seen running down the street after his son, Carlos, who was learning to ride a bike. The pair would walk and play together on Solano’s front porch in the 1700 block of North Francisco Avenue.
Hernandez characterized Solano as funny and happy, while his sister called him outgoing and “a people person.”
“He was a very friendly person,” Calderon said. “He would’ve helped you if you were stranded.”
Solano had just started a new job, Calderon said, and was looking forward to his son’s birthday party. Carlos turned 4 a few days prior to the shooting.
“We always hear [gunshots] on that block,” Hernandez said, pointing to her left. “Or on that block,” she said, pivoting right. “But never on this block."
Curious neighbors cluttered the sidewalk Friday night when they noticed police activity.
“I started praying: 'Oh God. Let whoever got shot be safe,'” Hernandez said. “I feel like it’s not possible [that Eugenio is gone]. We’re really going to miss him.”
Hernandez said she’s lived on the block for 30 years and noticed an uptick in crime in the past two.
“There’s teenagers everywhere,” she said. “We are surrounded by gangbangers on every street.”
Evelyn Cruz, who lives a couple houses down from the shooting site, said she heard five gunshots about 8 p.m.
Though the 40-year resident called shootings in the area rare, “you hear them every now and then,” she said. “You get used to it in Chicago. That could happen anywhere.”