JEFFERSON PARK — The family of a Jefferson Park teenager gunned down last year is offering a reward for information leading to the shooter's arrest, saying police efforts on the case have stalled.
"This is a case that should have been an open-and-shut case," said Mirna Resto, the grandmother of slain 19-year-old Miguel Cancel. "My family's still suffering. All I want is this boy to rest in peace."
About 2:45 a.m. on April 13, 2013, Miguel "Mikey" Cancel was riding in the 4200 block of West Irving Park Road in a car with his older brother, another man and three women.
Juan Carlos Cancel, who was driving, said the group was heading to a party after leaving a nightclub on West Irving Park Road. Cancel's car was stopped at a red light when a sedan with three men inside pulled alongside them. The men started throwing up gang signs and throwing bottles at the car. Then one man got out of the car, Juan Carlos Cancel said.
"When the guy came up to the car, he pulled out a gun and just started shooting," he said.
A 19-year-old woman was shot in her right arm, and a 22-year-old man was shot in both his thighs. Both were taken to area hospitals and survived.
But Cancel was hit in his head and right shoulder. The 19-year-old was taken to John H. Stroger Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Mirna Resto and other family members say Cancel was killed by members of the Latin Kings, and Resto said one man in the car had tried to fight Cancel at Taft High School, where he was a senior.
Police said the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made, and more details are not available, a police spokeswoman said.
Conflicting stories about the night of the shooting from detectives and a lack of evidence have impeded the investigation, said Michelle Valdez, a family member.
"They're working on what they have," she said. "Nothing's really concrete. No one's confessed to doing it. They don't have the smoking gun [and] there's no cameras or anything like that."
At the time, police described the shooting as gang-related. Authorities said both Cancel and his brother, who lived in the 5500 block of North Parkside Avenue, were members of the Maniac Latin Disciples gang.
But that's something Resto and the 19-year-old's family vehemently deny.
"Mikey was not a member," Resto said. "If Mikey was a gangbanger, I wouldn't even bother with this because that'd be the life he chose."
Juan Carlos Cancel said he believes his younger brother's murder has not been solved because of the perception he was in a gang.
"He wasn't a gangbanger, and his priorities weren't to be a gangbanger. They were family and school," Cancel said. "And that's where the cops got it wrong. They thought he was a gangbanger, so it was going to happen to him anyway."
Resto agreed and said she will continue to "fight for Mikey's cause."
"They're saying it's gang-related, and when it's gang-related, it's like another menace to society off the street," she said. "So Mikey is being considered a gang member, and so his life is nothing."
Resto spoke in a phone interview from Florida, where she had planned to move with Cancel after he graduated from Taft High School in June 2013. Cancel wanted to study computers at Valencia College, she said.
Resto said her grandson, whom she had raised since he was 6 months old, was a "ladies' man" who was funny and well-liked. He left behind a 3-year-old daughter who still asks about him, Resto said.
Resto said she is offering $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest in Cancel's murder case. Fliers have popped up around the neighborhood where he was killed, and Resto said she will not stop seeking justice for her grandson, even if she has to continue her fight from out of state.
But Michelle Valdez said while her family is frustrated by the slow road to justice, she understands that police need "concrete" evidence, and she said the family wants the right people put behind bars.
"We want the right person," she said. "We don't want just anybody."
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