Frederick Laguardia’s hands trembled slightly as he prepared to speak, just a few feet from where his 71-year-old father was shot while watering his lawn a few days earlier.
It might have been nerves. More likely simmering rage.
“I’m supposed to talk about what a good person my father is in order to garner sympathy. I don’t want to,” Laguardia began, surrounded by three dozen or so supporters in the Marquette Park neighborhood Thursday morning. “I think the headline, ’71-year-old man shot and robbed while watering lawn’ should be enough!”
Laguardia’s voice boomed above the rattle and growl of passing trucks and cars. Then it softened.
“The simple truth is, my father is a friendly, sober, increasingly uncomplicated man — all qualities I would be proud to exhibit someday,” said Laguardia. “He liked to be outside gardening, having a cigarette.”
Last week, Federico Laguardia was watering his front lawn — something he’d done in the warmer months for 28 years — when he was robbed and shot, a crime caught on a neighbor’s surveillance video. The two robbers fled on bicycles. On Thursday, as Laguardia continues to recover from his injuries, a reward of $10,000 was offered for information leading to the culprits’ arrest.
Religious leaders surrounded Federico’s son Thursday, talking about the need for healing, justice, unity — common themes after a shooting in the city.
Frederick Laguardia said he understands, after his father’s daylight mugging, why people might want to move away from the neighborhood.
“Personally, I want to take my parents far away, put them somewhere where no harm will ever come to them again — maybe my front pocket,” he said. “After this trauma, my once open-hearted father told me he will now have to be suspicious of every person who passes by. I don’t want that.”
Laguardia railed against people who look at Chicago from afar and think they understand what’s going on here.
“People so far removed from the situation that they see the problems of Chicago and the people as indistinguishable,” Laguardia said. “People who go online, watch the video of my father being shot and robbed, and the only thing they feel is moral superiority to the attackers.”
Laguardia ended this way: “My father holds many titles, but first and foremost, he is a human being. We still hold on to the hope that we are still living in a time that being a human being means something in this community. It has to.”