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Family of Slain White Sox Food Vendor from Brighton Park Waits for Answers

By Quinn Ford | April 22, 2014 4:16pm
 Nicholas Ramirez was shot to death in the 400 block of North Ashland Avenue early Saturday morning after a car chase.
Nicholas Ramirez
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BRIGHTON PARK — Nicholas Ramirez was a "big goofball" and a bit of a "momma's boy," said his sister, Julia.

"He always wanted to joke around, very lovable, very huggable, used to kiss my mom to the last day he saw her," she said. "Tell her that he loved her every day."

But Friday night, the 19-year-old White Sox food vendor told his mom he was heading to the North Side to a party with friends. By Saturday morning, Ramirez had been killed, one of nine people killed during the Easter weekend.

And his family says they are still waiting to hear more from police and the friends he was with to determine what led to his killing.

"It was just another day, another night, and they took him from us," Julia Ramirez said said.

 Nicholas Ramirez was shot to death in the 400 block of North Ashland Avenue early Saturday morning after a car chase.
Nicholas Ramirez was shot to death in the 400 block of North Ashland Avenue early Saturday morning after a car chase.
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DNAinfo/Quinn Ford

Police said about 2:30 a.m., Nicholas Ramirez was driving his SUV in Wicker Park when another a Nissan sedan began chasing him southbound on Ashland Avenue.

Ramirez crashed into two vehicles before hitting a median in the 400 block of North Ashland Avenue.

Four friends who were riding in Ramirez's SUV fled the scene after the crash when they saw the men get out of the Nissan and start walking toward them. Ramirez's airbag had gone off, and he couldn't get out, his sister said.

Police said multiple men walked up to Ramirez's car and began shooting. The 19-year-old was shot in his head and leg. The gunmen then hopped back in the car and fled east.

Ramirez's friends later told his sister they had heard shots ring out as they ran away from the SUV. By the time they circled back, police had already arrived on the scene.

Standing on the porch of their Brighton Park home Tuesday, Julia Ramirez said her family still didn't know why the gunmen chased her brother. His friends told her they did not recognize the men in the Nissan.

"Why up on the North Side?" she said. "We go to the North Side for safe parties, safe people."

Police said they were investigating if the shooting was gang-related, saying Ramirez and his friends had gang ties.

But that's a claim his family said simply is not true.

There are gangs in the Brighton Park neighborhood, but family stressed he was not in a gang.

"Absolutely not," said his uncle Oscar Mendoza. "That definitely was not him."

Ramirez had graduated from Jane Addams High School and had been attending classes at Malcolm X College. He also worked as a food vendor at U.S. Cellular Field, a job he loved because he bled "White Sox blood," his sister said.

One of Ramirez's favorite players was Frank Thomas, and he had probably been to about 200 Sox games in his life, his uncle said.

Mendoza said baseball was his nephew's real passion. Ramirez had played his entire life, winning championships and making "life-long" friends, Mendoza said. In recent years, Ramirez had played third base.

Ramirez, the youngest of two, was also a popular guy, his sister said. He was a great host, the "life of the party," she said.

"Everybody really loved him," Ramirez said.

Candles, flowers and pictures covered Ramirez's front porch Tuesday, left over from a candlelight vigil held for him on Saturday night. More than 80 friends and family came out to pray for the teen, his sister said.

Family members are still waiting to hear from police and the friends who were with him Saturday to find out exactly what happened. Julia Ramirez said she would like to see someone locked up for killing her brother.

She said she spoke with Ramirez over the phone Friday. He was talking about his dog, his job and how excited he was for summertime in Chicago.

Mendoza said he would remember his nephew for his smile.

"He was always smiling. He had a lot of love," he said. "He smiled more than anybody."