Family members of Chrys Carvajal, the 19-year-old Illinois National Guard soldier who was murdered last month in a random drive-by shooting, are demanding Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx file charges in the case.
“We have come here today to demand justice,” Carvajal’s sister, Jennifer Ramirez, 25, said at a news conference in the Loop.
“My brother’s life was taken by a coward. This coward did not know my brother. He did not even speak to my brother. He simply saw an opportunity to kill and shot with no remorse whatsoever,” she said.
“How many more lives need to be taken for the correct action to be made?” Ramirez said. “We are living in a war zone, and no one seems to defend us.”
Carvajal, who had recently completed basic training, was attending a party July 3 in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood when he was shot twice about 1 a.m. while retrieving something from his car.
Chicago detectives have a suspect — a high-ranking Milwaukee Kings gang member — and presented evidence Sunday to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which rejected a murder charge, police said.
Police identified the vehicle used in the shooting and obtained data putting the suspect’s cellphone in the area of the shooting. The 38-year-old man jumped out of the car and randomly shot Carvajal, police said.
The suspect’s criminal record includes convictions for violent crimes including home invasion and aggravated battery. He also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge in that case, records show.
A Foxx spokesman, in an emailed statement, said the evidence, including video and witness accounts, was “insufficient to meet our burden of proof to file murder charges at this time.”
“As prosecutors, we have both an ethical and legal obligation to make charging decisions based on the evidence, facts and the law. We will review any additional information that is brought to us, as we remain committed to the work of justice for those most impacted by violence in our communities.”
A police source said they’re frustrated a murder charge was rejected in Carvajal’s killing — the latest grievance in the continuing tension between the police department and state’s attorney’s office.
For months, police Supt. David Brown has pointed a finger at Foxx, saying her office isn’t tough on violent criminals. Foxx has fired back, saying police need to do more to build solid cases against suspected shooters instead of focusing on people who illegally possess firearms.
Carvajal’s family praised the diligent work detectives have done on the case.
Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) denounced the decision not to file charges.
“What else do you want? You’re not going to have the person who committed the crime say ‘I did it,’” he said.
Villegas said he planned to reach out to Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to see if Foxx’s office could be bypassed and justice sought through the military’s legal system or federal prosecutors.
Carvajal, who lived in Portage Park and aspired to become a Chicago police officer, was a graduate of Chicago Academy High School.
His mother, Lourdes Lara, clutched a rosary and repeatedly squeezed a yellow foam ball with a smiley face on it Friday as she fought back tears while calling for justice for her son.
“My son swore to protect the country, and the country isn’t doing the same,” Lara, a Chicago Public Schools cafeteria worker, said in Spanish.
Carvajal’s father, Eliseo Carvajal, wearing a “U.S. Army Proud Dad” T-shirt, didn’t speak at the news conference.
“Chrys would have done anything for this city, so do the bare minimum for Chrys,” said Citlali Olivares, 20, Carvajal’s girlfriend and a National Guard member.