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Shot Pilsen Teen 'Literally Dying In Our Arms' As Two Men Rush To Save Him

By Ariel Cheung | August 15, 2017 5:44am
 A 16-year-old was shot in the 1800 block of West 18th Street Monday afternoon.
A 16-year-old was shot in the 1800 block of West 18th Street Monday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

PILSEN — A 16-year-old boy shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting Monday afternoon was left for dead until two passersby with medical training rushed in to try and save his life.

Roberto Montaño, a Pilsen resident and former aldermanic candidate, took to Facebook in the short hours after the shooting to recount what happened, his hands "still shaking from the adrenaline."

The victim was standing in the 1800 block of West 18th Street around 6:30 p.m. when a light-colored car pulled up and a backseat passenger began shooting, Chicago Police said.

Montaño, who was walking down 18th Street near Wood, said he knew "immediately" the drive-by shooting had likely left someone seriously wounded, based on the number of shots fired.

The teen was shot in his back, chest and arm. A Cook County surgical resident and Montaño, who trained as a medic in the Army, rushed forward to assess his wounds.

Together, they scrounged for scraps of cloth to apply pressure to the wounds, meanwhile fighting to keep the teenager conscious, said Montaño, who also served as a former chief of staff to Ald. Danny Solis (25th).

"He was fading, so we did everything possible to keep him conscious as he lay bleeding out on [the] curb, literally dying in our arms," Montaño wrote in his post.

By the time first responders arrived on scene, the two men had stabilized his circulation and cleared his airway. As Chicago Fire officials gave the teen fluids and oxygen, Montaño said it seemed they were "snatching him back from death itself."

The teen was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition. Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the shooting, which is still under investigation, police said.

The 16-year-old was shot steps from both Harrison Park and Orozco Elementary along one of the major Pilsen corridors on a block that includes Small Burger and Pizza Nova.

Just hours earlier, a 37-year-old man was shot and wounded in the 2000 block of South Hoyne Avenue. Around the time of the shooting on 18th Street, police were called to the United Center when fights broke out after an unexpectedly large turnout for the West Haven Safe Summer League championship game prompted organizers to cancel the event.

Montaño, a financial adviser who unsuccessfully challenged his former boss in the 2015 aldermanic race, said he would be happy to see his Facebook post result in more resources to combat gang violence in Pilsen and the Near West Side.

After a little time to reflect Monday evening, he said he was angry with the situation, but grateful that it seemed the teenager would survive.

"He may not walk again, but he'll live," Montaño said. "This boy's ours again now."

Montaño's Facebook post quickly attracted attention Monday night as commenters both congratulated Montaño and asked about possible gang-related motives for the shooting.

Montaño rebuffed that particular line of questioning.

"I'm not judging the kid, not tonight. All I know is he was fading on me, fast," he responded. "I don't know his personal history, and that's not my business. He came back, and in that moment, he seemed pretty innocent to me."

Another commenter said she knew the victim, who was visiting his mother and lives outside the neighborhood. He was never part of a gang, she said.

"Not everyone that lives in PIlsen is a gangbanger," she said.

To Montaño, what mattered was "we turned a terribly tragic situation into something a little less sad," he said. "The boy gets a second chance."