Afternoon Edition: Jan. 25, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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A candle with a photo of Melissa Ortega on its side at the memorial for 8-year-old Melissa Ortega at the corner of 26th Street and South Pulaski Road in Little Village, Monday Jan. 24, 2022. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A candle with a photo of Melissa Ortega on its side at the memorial for 8-year-old Melissa Ortega at the corner of 26th Street and South Pulaski Road in Little Village yesterday.

Anthony Vázquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 11 degrees and wind chill values as low as minus-5. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around minus-7 and wind chill values as low as minus-19. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory from 8 p.m. tonight to noon tomorrow. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 10 and wind chill values as low as minus-20.

Top story

‘Please don’t let her die in vain.’ Family of 8-year-old killed in Little Village calls for justice

Melissa Ortega’s family is asking the public to come together and help bring to justice those responsible for gunning down the 8-year-old in Little Village over the weekend.

“We want to thank everyone for their condolences and prayers, however we wish people would come together and help us bring justice,” the family said in a statement. “Too often we hear news of shootings across Chicago, this continuous activity makes us habituated to these types of scenes.

“That is NOT something we should have to be accustomed to,” they added. “Please don’t let her die in vain. No more innocent kids should be killed. Mayor Lightfoot needs to make Chicago safe.”

Melissa was walking with her mother on 26th Street near Pulaski Road Saturday afternoon when a gunman stepped from an alley and opened fire, striking the 8-year-old twice in the head, according to police.

A gang member who was the intended target was critically wounded.

In an interview with Despierta America yesterday, Melissa’s mother Aracely Leanos called for the capture of the shooter, but also said she forgave the gunman for the pain they’ve inflicted.

Melissa and her mother had immigrated to the United States only six months ago. After spending some time in California they decided to come to Chicago, where most of their family lived, the family said in a statement.

Melissa wanted to learn English and experience snow in Chicago. She wanted to make Tik Tok dances with her friends and get a Build-A-Bear, the family said. On the day she was shot, Melissa was looking forward to a hamburger from McDonald’s after running errands with her mother.

“At age 8, she was a girl full of hope and had her whole life ahead of her,” her family said. “She sought to achieve the American Dream but was instead given American Violence.”

Emmanuel Camarillo has more from Melissa’s family here.

More news you need

  1. An Indianapolis man accused of opening fire at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center while armed with an assault rifle in 2019 pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge today. The plea comes after two years of back and forth over his mental competency, as the 43-year-old now faces a sentence of three to five years.
  2. The House Ethics Committee yesterday announced it will continue its probe of whether Rep. Marie Newman promised a government job to Iymen Hamman Chehade in exchange for him not running against her in 2020. It’s a politically damaging development for Newman, who is locked in a Democratic primary battle with Rep. Sean Casten.
  3. Thousands of contract employees at O’Hare and Midway airports will see their hourly wages rise to $17 on July 1 — that’s $2 higher than Chicago’s $15 minimum wage. It will go up to $18 a year later and increase by the consumer price index every year after that.
  4. The Archdiocese of Chicago announced yesterday a number of consolidations of West Side, South Side and south suburban parishes. The consolidations are part of an initiative launched in 2016 to address declines in membership.
  5. Bad Bunny is heading out on the road for a year jam-packed with concert dates for two world tours across two continents. Benito will stop by Soldier Field on Aug. 20.
  6. A new Kanye West documentary gifts fans with never-before-seen, intimate footage of the Chicago-bred artist, now known as Ye. It’s like a “Get Back” for Millennials, Sheri Flanders writes in her preview of “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.”

A bright one

Rising country star Brittney Spencer puts a lot of herself into her music: ‘it’s important to tell your story’

Brittney Spencer grew up singing in the church, a Black girl with a big voice and even bigger dreams who spent most of her childhood trying to emulate the powerful voices surrounding her.

Whether it was The Chicks songs she would perform in the attic of her family’s Baltimore home or the Loretta Lynn songs she performed with her band on the side of a Kentucky interstate not too long ago, Spencer has always wanted to sing.

As one of country music’s most talented and intriguing new characters, Spencer finds herself using her talent and voice to finally tell her story.

Brittney Spencer headlines Space in Evanston this weekend.

Brittney Spencer headlines Space in Evanston this weekend.

Nicki Fletcher

“I feel like a three-minute song can sometimes encapsulate everything that you’ve been thinking and experiencing for years,” says Spencer, who made the move to Nashville about nine years ago and was soon singing backup for artists such as Carrie Underwood and Christopher Cross. 

It’s a power that can be heard all over her 2020 EP “Compassion” and on songs such as “Sober & Skinny,” “Damn Right, You’re Wrong” and “My Stupid Life,” and it’s a power that is resulting in packed venues as Spencer continues on her headlining “In a Perfect World” world tour.

You can see Spencer perform Friday at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Tricia Despres has more from her conversation with Spencer here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What advice do you have for the Bears’ new GM?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What was your first reaction to the Packers’ postseason elimination yesterday?

Here’s what some of you said…

“The Packers' loss was great news! The fact that they lost because of a former bears player made it even sweeter.” — Beverly Hajek Cooper

“Celebration. As much as I loathe the Bears' current situation, and wish they were beating the Packers, any time the Packers lose a playoff game — it’s always a time for celebration.” — Harlin S. Neal

“I’m a Bears fan living in Wisconsin. I LOVED IT, my family loved it. I watched Robbie Gould kick the game winner and his response over and over again, especially his response.” — Lorinda Bird

“Exhilaration! I loved it! Payback time for his anti-vax statements and his comment to Bears that ‘I still own you!’ Since Gould was a former Bear and he kicked the winning field goal, I think many got vindication!” — Barbara Crowley

“That Aaron really ‘owned’ that loss.” — Michael Vicari

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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