ROGERS PARK — The family of a 14-year-old boy who was shot dead by police on July 4 said the children of Chicago need refuge from gangs and street violence.
"They need protection," said Pedro Rios Sr., 50, outside of his family's Rogers Park apartment Monday where he was grieving with his wife and two other sons, ages 11 and 12.
Rios, a U.S. citizen who moved to Chicago from Mexico 30 years ago, heard from police Friday night about what happened to his eldest son.
Pedro Rios Jr. was walking about 10 p.m. in Portage Park when police spotted an object protruding from the boy's waistband, police said. When officers tried to question Rios, he reached for what turned out to be a .44 Magnum revolver, they said.
Police opened fire. Rios was pronounced dead at 10:07 p.m. on the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
A police union spokesman said the shooting was justified. The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating; a spokesman had no update on the investigation Monday.
"We are at the very beginning of the investigations," Larry Merritt about Rios' shooting by police along with four others over the weekend.
The Rios family, though, on Monday spoke out about the violence and street gangs that are taking the lives of so many young Chicagoans. Over the Fourth of July weekend, 11 people were killed and about 60 wounded in shootings across the city.
"What happens to kids when they're not with their parents?" said Susan Diaz, whose daughter married into the Rios family. "The kid was 14 years old. The parents do the best that they can. When the kid walks away — he goes to school, the beach, the park, the library — the gangbangers are hanging around waiting to recruit them. ... That's just the way it is."
Diaz said police "need some help" to stop the violence that has thrown Chicago into a "civil war."
"What the hell is happening in this city?" she said. "Yet another child is dead. Why?"
Family members said Rios attended Gale Math and Science Academy, but failed to graduate this year because of poor academic performance.
They said he would often hang out with friends in other parts of the city.
The night he died, his dad said he was at a party. As he left to get picked up by a friend, he was confronted by police.
His father said he didn't know where his son got the gun, but suspected he had been carrying it from one place to another for a gang.
"He was doing work for someone else," he said, through a translator.
The Rios family is also seeking "more answers" from police about the incident.
"They haven't seen a written report," Diaz said, and detectives "didn't tell them much."
Rios Jr.'s mother, Louta Rios, said through a translator that what happened to her son was unjust.
"The police should protect them," she said.
Family described the boy as a "sweet" and "normal" kid.
"He liked sports. He liked his bike. He liked music. He liked shoes," his father said.
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