A 15-year-old Chicago boy was fatally shot Sunday morning while delivering the Chicago Tribune newspaper with his stepfather in the LeClaire Courts neighborhood on the Southwest Side, police said.
The teen was identified as Brian Jasso, who family said was trying to earn some money for his sister’s birthday present.
“They took my son, but they gave me an angel,” said mom Carmen Manzano of her eldest child.
No one was in custody Sunday night and a motive was not immediately apparent.
Jasso and his stepfather were delivering newspapers at about 6:50 a.m. in the 5100-block of West 47th Street when someone in a white van rammed their 2000 Honda CRV from behind, police said. The boy’s stepfather tried to speed away, but the van drove alongside them and someone inside opened fire into their SUV.
“They started shooting at us from behind,” said stepfather Erick Campeano.
Campeano said he pulled Jasso down onto his lap, ducked and kept driving, trying to get away. When the bullets briefly stopped his stepson looked up, and that is when he was hit.
He was struck in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. The stepfather was not injured.
“I feel rage, helplessness,” Campeano said. “Don’t understand. We were on our way to work.”
“I will remember my son as my great hero,” Manzano said. “A wonderful son, who worked hard and fought to make himself a better person.”
Investigators were trying to determine whether the shooting was a case of mistaken identity in an ongoing gang conflict in the area, according to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. He said they are also looking at whether it was an attempted carjacking.
“We’re still in the early stages of the investigation,” Guglielmi said.
Guglielmi said neither the boy nor his stepfather have any known gang affiliations. Their background also suggests that they weren’t involved in an ongoing conflict between feuding Hispanic gangs, which have led to a number of shootings and murders this year in the Chicago Lawn, Deering and Ogden districts.
The shooting could have been a case of mistaken identity related to a shooting late Saturday that left two dead in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, Guglielmi said.
In that shooting, two men and a woman were driving about 9:40 p.m. when someone fired shots at them from the sidewalk in the 5900 block of South Richmond, police said. A 25-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were killed and a third man, 20, was in critical condition at Mount Sinai Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
Tronc, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, confirmed to the newspaper that the boy’s stepfather was an independent contractor who delivers the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and New York Times.
In a statement, Tronc said: “We are saddened and stunned by this news. Our hearts go out to the family of the young man who was killed.”
In response to the increased violence in the area, the department will increase officer visibility in the district by stepping up uniformed patrols, Guglielmi said. Members of the department’s gun and gang tactical teams will also take part in saturation patrols of the area.
Guglielmi said that such tactics in response to escalating neighborhood violence have proven effective in the past to cool off the conflicts.