If a carjacker or a robber or a gang member had killed Maria Dolores Ruiz, 49, it would have been all over the news.
But Ruiz was fatally shot in the parking lot of the North Riverside Park Mall last weekend.
Her death barely made the news.
Honorio Perez, 49, her estranged husband, has been charged with first-degree murder and felony aggravated battery with a firearm, accused of killing Ruiz and wounding the couple’s 14-year-old daughter.
I’ve been at that mall a thousand times. On the day she was killed, the mall’s parking lot would have been filled with mothers wrestling with baby strollers and trying to corral toddlers.
It was a miracle that no one else was killed.
Ruiz, the couple’s daughter and the daughter’s friend were getting in to a car when Perez started shooting.
“I’m just heartbroken,” said Olga Marquez, a family friend.
In a burst of gunfire, what obviously was a troubled relationship became a homicide, and three young people became orphans.
“My mother was shot in the head and did not make it,” Jose Noel Ruiz, 19, wrote on the GoFundMe page he set up asking for help with his mother’s funeral expenses. “My sister was left with a wounded arm. My two siblings and I are left without a mother or father.”
The site has raised more than $30,000 from hundreds of donors.
That might seem like a lot. But Jose Ruiz, a student at Clark University, will likely have to drop out of school and get a full-time job to take care of his two younger siblings.
To make things worse, Ruiz’s 21-year-old son and elderly mother, living in Mexico, were denied a humanitarian visa to fly to Chicago for the funeral. Also known as “parole” visas, these special visas are granted for “urgent humanitarian reasons,” or there must be a “significant public benefit involved.”
Ruiz’s children will have to travel to Mexico to bury their mom.
“I’m at a lost for words,” Marquez said. “This is utterly heartbreaking. It’s just tragic. If any funds are left from the fundraiser after the funeral expenses, it could aid and offset some of the unforeseen additional costs as these kids continue to cope, adapt and grieve their great loss.”
According to the National Latin@ Network website, 50 percent of Latinas who experience abuse never report it, and Latinas are half as likely to report abuse versus survivors from other ethnic or racial groups.
Last year, The Atlantic reported that “over half of the killings of American women are related to ‘intimate partner violence.’”
And in Illinois, there were 61 deaths resulting from domestic-violence incidents, according to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“The risk of lethality increases with several risk factors, including separation or an attempt to end the relationship; threats to kill; access to weapons; stalking; strangulation during an assault,” the agency’s annual report says. “Children not in common and unemployment are also factors in the risk of lethality.”
Unfortunately, Latina survivors of domestic violence might not feel safe reporting domestic violence to police, fearing their immigration status will be used against them.
Ruiz tried to escape the violence by separating from her husband. Her violent death shows that domestic violence doesn’t only harm the victim; it can, and often does, destroy the entire family.
Money alone won’t spare Ruiz’s children from the pain of losing both parents in such a violent manner.
Yes, these young people will need a lot of help surviving, and that takes money. But they also need to know — just like other survivors of gun violence — that the rest of us care.
Many in Little Village already have opened up their hearts and their wallets to aid this grieving family.
As “One Chicago,” we need to do our part as well.
To contribute, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/5m8qp2-funeral-memorial-expenses