Man, teen stopped for Subway sandwiches after fatally shooting Melissa Ortega: prosecutors
CHICAGO - A man and teen were ordered held without bond Thursday in the shooting death of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega.
Prosecutors said during bond court that Xavier Guzman, 27, and his 16-year-old accomplice went to get Subway sandwiches after the teen shot in the direction of three gang members, striking Melissa.
It was the community’s cooperation and policing that led to the arrests with some of the details being shared in Thursday's bond hearing.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge said the shooting showed "an absolute disregard for human life."
Melissa had just moved to Chicago from Mexico with her mother. They were walking hand in hand near Pulaski Road and 26th Street, a busy part of Little Village, Saturday afternoon, when she was shot.
Police said private and city pod video showed a taxicab drive up, the passenger got out, fired multiple times in the direction of three gang members and striking Melissa.
Video showed the gunman getting into the cab, which drove away. Police tracked the cab’s movements and found the 16-year-old accused shooter and 27-year-old Xavier Guzman, the alleged driver, along with weapons and the vehicle.
Video showed the suspects stopping for sandwiches at a Subway restaurant and a gas station for drinks, prosecutors said. They drove around, even stopping by the crime scene where a memorial was placed, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Guzman confessed that he allowed the 16-year-old to use his gun.
The teen had been arrested for three carjackings in 2021 and was released after each charge, spending some time on electronic monitoring.
Melissa, who was a student at Emiliano Zapata Academy, an elementary school in the city’s heavily-Mexican neighborhood, according to the Chicago Teachers Union, was pronounced dead at a hospital later Saturday.
Her burial will take place in Mexico.
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The girl’s mother, Araceli Leanos, said in a statement released by a family representative that the two had been walking together immediately before the shooting. She said Melissa had just asked if they could get a hamburger after going to the bank when "My daughter stopped holding my hand and without explanation I found her on the floor with a puddle of blood and a bullet to her head."
Leanos said her family emigrated to Chicago from Mexico six months ago "in search of the American dream."
"Instead I get to live a nightmare the rest of my life," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.