BACK OF THE YARDS — Francisco Cano brought his oldest son, Angel, to Chicago from Mexico in 2004 in search of a better life.
Cano said he took his son — the oldest of three — to Chicago "to be somebody," and he said Angel had dreams of becoming a singer or professional soccer player.
Those dreams ended Tuesday evening, when police found the 16-year-old lying dead in a gangway in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Police were called about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday to the 4300 block of South Paulina Street, where they found Angel with a gunshot wound in the head. He was pronounced dead on the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Neighbors said they heard three or four shots that one neighbor described as sounding like "popping balloons." Another neighbor who requested to remain anonymous said he saw a black truck fleeing down the nearby alley after the shots.
Police said the shooting may have been gang-related, but the Cano family said the teen was never involved with any gangs.
Wednesday evening, grief-stricken family members gathered at the Canos' home in the 2200 block of West 50th Place.
Speaking through an interpreter, Francisco Cano said his son was sitting at home surfing Facebook Tuesday when a neighbor invited him to Davis Square Park to play basketball. He said Angel went to the park and never returned.
Cano's voice broke Wednesday evening as he remembered his son, whom family called "Panchito."
"He was always happy, singing," Cano said. "He wanted to be a famous soccer player. That's why he was always at the park because he would play soccer [and] teach people how to play soccer."
Family members said Angel was known around the neighborhood for his soccer skills and said he loved playing any sport at the park.
Neighbors near where Angel was gunned down said something as simple as playing at the park was dangerous in an area they called gang-infested.
Cano said his son initially went to Kelly High School but transferred to the Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy because he was receiving threats at Kelly and the family feared for Angel's safety.
Now that his son has been murdered, Cano said he wants justice.
"I want the police to catch whoever did this because what they did to my son, they could do to another person," Cano said.
Rosa Delgado, a family member who translated for Cano, said her family was tired of all the shootings in the neighborhood.
"The family just wants justice. There's never justice here," she said. "It's getting out of control."
Family members said they needed help raising the money for Angel's funeral service.
Family said donations could be made at St. Joseph Church, 4821 S. Hermitage Ave., on Sunday.