A reputed gang member was out to avenge the murder of his father when he opened fire at a group of teenagers walking in rival territory, fatally wounding a 14-year-old boy Sunday afternoon in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood, Cook County prosecutors said today.
Javier Garza, 17, flashed gang signs at a group of teenagers before jumping out a minivan and firing four shots, striking Michael Orozco three times in the back in the 2200 block of South Leavitt Street, prosecutors said. A 13-year-old girl walking with Orozco suffered a graze wound on her right leg.
A judge ordered Javier Garza held without bond on the first-degree murder charge, while co-defendant Damien Garza, the alleged getaway driver, was given a $1 million bond.
The two suspects, both reputed Latin Saints, drove into Satan Disciple territory to kill a rival as payback for the death of Javier Garza’s father, prosecutors said. Prosecutors did not disclose the father's name or when he was killed.
A witness in the area of the shooting was able to take down the license plate of the minivan and called 911 with the information. Police officers spotted the green minivan speeding east on Cermak Road and gave chase before the van crashed. The two suspects were arrested within minutes of the shooting.
Officers found a loaded .45-caliber handgun behind the driver’s seat of the minivan, prosecutors said. At the shooting scene, investigators found four .45 caliber cartridge casings and five bullet fragments. The minivan and the suspects were identified by the witnesses at the scene, according to a police report.
Multiple witnesses identified Javier Garza, of the 2900 block of North 75th Court in Elmwood Park, as the gunman and Damien Garza, of the 4500 block of South Wood Street, as the driver of the green minivan, according to prosecutors.
A third person taken into custody was released without charges, police said.
Prosecutors said Damien Garza admitted to detectives that he and Javier Garza were driving around Satan Disciple territory and that he knew that Javier Garza was planning to shoot a rival gang member as payback for his father’s death. He also identified the gun recovered by police as the weapon used by Javier Garza in the slaying, prosecutors said.
Damien Garza is on two years probation after being charged with violating the terms of electronic monitoring in 2012, according to court records. Previously, he was found not guilty in a 2012 felony drug posession case. He was found guilty in a 2011 domestic battery case and sentenced to serve 150 days in jail, as well as having an order of protection entered against him.
The day of his killing, Michael had told his mother, Marisol Martinez, "I'll be back later," Martinez recalled Monday. He went to meet up with a few friends around 3 p.m. near their West Side home. "I was going to order pizza (for him)" later, she said.
The freshman at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy was gunned down about 90 minutes later. He was shot in the chest and pronounced dead just before 5 p.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital. One of the two teen girls suffered a graze wound to her leg but refused medical treatment.
The area was the scene of violence last year. In May, two men in their 20s were fatally shot in the same block as Michael, while two teenage girls were wounded in a drive-by shooting in the 2300 block of South Leavitt Avenue in December.
Police said Michael was affiliated with a gang and that the three taken into custody were rival gang members. But his mother vehemently disputed that her son was in a gang.
According to his mother, Michael, the middle of three children, loved soccer, was meticulous about his appearance and liked to flirt with girls. An avid White Sox fan, he teased his older brother for liking the Cubs.
"You had all the girls after him," his mother said with a slight chuckle as she sat on a living room couch beneath a number of photos of her son on the wall. "You'd see them all (in front) waiting for him. And Michael would take his time, like an hour or two, getting ready. And I'm like, 'Michael, hurry up. ... ' And they would wait."
Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributedCopyright © 2015, RedEye