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Old Pot Dispute At The Root Of Innocent Woman's Murder, Prosecutors Say

 Giovanni Garcia, 20, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 8 shooting.
Giovanni Garcia, 20, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 8 shooting.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — This month's murder of a Gage Park woman, shot in her head as she sat in a car, was the result of a year-long feud between her boyfriend and a man he felt ripped him off in a pot deal.

Lauren Membreno, 23, was the innocent victim in the feud between her boyfriend and Giovanni Garcia, who is now charged with killing her, prosecutors said.

She and her boyfriend were sitting in a parked car in the West Elsdon neighborhood on April 8 when 20-year-old Garcia drove by and opened fire, prosecutors said.

A bullet shattered the passenger window — fatally striking Membreno in her right temple. Police at the time said they didn't believe Membreno was the intended target.

"The problem I have is this wanton violence," Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said Friday before ordering Garcia held without bail. "Innocent people are being killed."

According to Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Howroyd, Membreno's boyfriend bought marijuana from Garcia more than a year ago and felt shortchanged by the interaction.

The pair got into a phone argument at the time, Howroyd said, and Garcia and three others allegedly attacked the boyfriend inside a convenience store in October.

On April 8, Membreno's boyfriend was sitting in Membreno's car outside the Jewel-Osco at 5320 S. Pulaski Rd. when he spotted Garcia and two other people exit the store about 6:45 p.m., prosecutors said.

Membreno was inside the store at the time, according to Howroyd, and her boyfriend was waiting for her to return to the car.

Garcia approached the boyfriend, who got out of the car, and the two men got into a argument, prosecutors said. Garcia allegedly threatened the boyfriend before leaving the area in a silver car.

When Membreno returned to her vehicle, she got in the front passenger seat, and her boyfriend drove to his home in the 5400 block of South Karlov Avenue, Howroyd said.

Roughly 20 minutes after the Jewel-Osco confrontation, Membreno and her boyfriend were sitting outside in his car when the boyfriend heard screeching tires, prosecutors said.

He looked up to see Garcia driving a silver car — one hand on the wheel and one hand on a gun, according to Howroyd.

Garcia fired toward the car, fatally striking Membreno. She was pronounced dead the following day at 5:37 p.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Membreno's boyfriend identified Garcia as the shooter, and Jewel-Osco surveillance footage captured the fight outside the store, prosecutors said.

Garcia, of the 4700 block of South Kedvale Avenue in Archer Heights, is charged with first-degree murder. He was held without bail Friday.

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