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Brother: Man shot to death in Avondale ‘was a great father’

Family and friends mourn at the corner of Pulaski and Melrose, where 24-year-old Max Arroyo was shot to death early Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A man walking to a bus stop with his girlfriend Thursday morning was gunned down in the Avondale neighborhood on the Northwest Side.

“I don’t believe this,” said Antonio Arroyo, 47, who identified the victim as his 24-year-old nephew, Maximiliano “Max” Arroyo.

Officers responding to reports of a person shot at 5:41 a.m. found him lying in the street in the 4000 block of West Melrose, according to Chicago Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police source said the victim was walking to the bus stop with his girlfriend when a vehicle pulled up and someone inside asked them if they had gang affiliations, then opened fire. The girlfriend was not injured.

Max Arroyo | Provided photo
Max Arroyo | Provided photo

Antonio Arroyo hugged the woman as she sobbed, while Max Arroyo’s body could be seen in the street nearby, covered by a blue sheet.

Antonio Arroyo said he lives on the block, and that his nephew—a father of two boys younger than five—has been staying with him for about two months. Max Arroyo had just started working with his uncle at a factory in southwest suburban Bolingbrook.

Before sunrise, Max Arroyo’s brothers, 19-year-old Julio Gomez and 21-year-old German Gomez, arrived at the scene. They paced, yelled, and gathered with family and friends in the street outside the red crime scene tape as Chicago Police detectives and evidence technicians investigated.

“We didn’t have a father and he took care of us,” said Julio Gomez. “He took care of us, cooked for us, got us ready for school. He was a family man.”

He said Max Arroyo was “straightening his life out,” adding, “This shouldn’t have happened.”

GalleryGerman Gomez called his brother a great father. “It didn’t matter if he only had $2 in his pocket, we both ate,” he said.

The shooting happened at a busy intersection, prompting police to pull their squad cars close to the body in an effort to block the scene from sight of family members and passersby.

Employees at City Cafe, which was supposed to open at 6 a.m., were prevented from entering the corner restaurant while the body was still at the scene, according to 28-year-old Miguel Tapia, who has worked in the cafe’s kitchen for nearly two years.

Customers at Soap Box Laundry, on the opposite corner, peered out windows and stood quietly in the parking lot.

Roberto Castelano, 30, was in the laundromat at the time, getting some clothes cleaned before his shift at Glazed & Infused.

“This is so sad,” he said, adding he’s only seen two shootings in the 10 years he’s lived in the Portage Park neighborhood.

“Chicago right now, it’s a mess,” Castelano said. “Two or three people are dying every day. It’s just sad.”