Family and friends of a 32-year-old nurse who was fatally shot last year in Little Village held hands and prayed as they stood in a half-circle around an altar they affectionately made for him Sunday.
Frank Aguilar’s loved ones gathered at the corner of 32nd Street and Hamlin Avenue, a warm sunshine casting their shadows on Augilar’s memorial, which was meticulously decorated with a stethoscope, old Xbox controller, Mexican flags and bouquets of flowers.
Vandals had destroyed the previous memorial for Aguilar, who was gunned down late Nov. 12, 2019, outside his family’s house in Little Village. Patty Arroyo, a childhood friend of Aguilar’s, said they returned from court early last week to find its candles had been broken, flowers destroyed and photo was missing.
“It’s a horrible sign of disrespect, but we are a strong group of people who love Frank,” Arroyo said. “We will fight to honor him and make sure justice is served.”
Aguilar had stopped at his family’s house that November night to do laundry, which he was unloading from his car when someone shot him in the chest from a gray SUV, according to Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died.
Armando Lopez, 19, who police suspect was the SUV’s driver, was arrested three days later after allegedly leading police on a vehicle chase that started in Little Village and ended in a crash in Chatham.
Lopez was charged with aggravated fleeing, attempting to elude police and driving on a revoked license but not in connection with Aguilar’s death at the time, police said.
A 13-year-old was being investigated as a person of interest, police said, but no one has been charged in the shooting.
“We want justice. There are criminals out here getting away with gun violence who need to be held accountable and charged to the fullest extent of the law,” said Aguilar’s older sister, Sharee Rangel.
Rangel said Aguilar, who worked at a Misericordia nursing home, was the first person in the family to graduate from college.
“He paved the way and was a role model in our family,” Rangel said, holding back tears as her daughter ran up to hug and comfort her. “His stethoscope is there because that was a dream, which he achieved coming from a community that has many barriers.”
Former prosecutor Donna More, who is running in the election for Cook County state’s attorney, also stopped by to support Aguilar’s family.
“Frank was a nurse and did nothing but help people in his life,” More said. “I came to pay my respects, because to have not only his murder, but then the desecration of a memorial site is a double affront.”