About 100 Hermosa residents gathered at a Chicago Police Department roll call Monday evening to grieve over the nearby shooting death of a 2-year-old boy that occurred over the weekend and to ask anyone with information to come forward.
“This is what we were all called to this job for, this situation right here,” Grand Central District Cmdr. Anthony Escamilla told the approximately 30 officers at Hermosa Park.
Police, however, may be facing an uphill battle in the investigation as the family of Julien Gonzalez has been less-than-helpful in the two days since the toddler was fatally shot near the intersection of Belden and Kilbourn, according to Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th).
“They have not responded to anyone trying to reach out to them,” Villegas said. “We’ve had some people come out and try to talk with them. …. Now, that being said, given the tragedy that occurred, one would understand.”
At 10:17 p.m. Friday, Julien Gonzalez and an 18-year-old man were standing near an alley in the 2200 block of North Kilbourn Avenue when shots were fired from the end of the street, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The shots were fired in the direction of two females who were fighting in the alley between Kilbourn and Kenneth avenues, police said.
Villegas said the shooter or shooters were “some gangbangers [who] saw an opportunity, came by and started shooting in the alley.”
The toddler was struck in the neck and taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:39 p.m., authorities said. He lived in the Clearing neighborhood on the Southwest Side. The 18-year-old was shot in his left leg and taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
Villegas said the toddler and his parents were at the house — some 11 miles north of their home — because a relative was hosting a party. That house has been the subject of several noise complaints from neighbors, Villegas said.
Elizabeth Ramirez attended the roll call with a poster board that featured the photos of several other children murdered in Chicago and the surrounding area in recent years, including 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee and 17-month-old Semaj Crosby.
“I consider them my children,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said her son, 23-year-old Harry David Ramirez, was shot to death less than two miles away on Oct. 23, 2011 as he was celebrating his 24th birthday.
She said her son died when he shielded others from gunfire. Now, it’s her mission to let families of slain children know that they’re not alone.
“We have to be there to support the parents,” she said. “It’s not about us. It’s about our children.”
“We have to be their voice for justice and for peace,” she added.