No bail for alleged gunman charged in 10-year-old girl’s murder

On Wednesday, Chicago police described 19-year-old Christopher Lara as the getaway driver. But Thursday, prosecutors said evidence shows Lara was also the shooter.

SHARE No bail for alleged gunman charged in 10-year-old girl’s murder
A vigil for 10-year-old Lena Nunez is held outside a Logan Square apartment June 29..

A vigil for 10-year-old Lena Nunez is held outside a Logan Square apartment June 29..

Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

A Streamwood man earlier described as the getaway driver in a deadly shooting that claimed the life of 10-year-old Lena Nunez is now also believed to be the alleged gunman that sprayed the Logan Square alley with bullets, killing the girl as she watched television in a nearby apartment.

On Wednesday, Chicago police said 19-year-old Christopher Lara was the getaway driver behind the wheel of an SUV that brought the shooter to the block on June 27.

But in court Thursday, Cook County prosecutors said they were confident that he was also a shooter, based on witness statements, surveillance video, cellphone records and Lara’s previous run-ins with police.

The bullet that killed Lena came through a window of her grandmother’s apartment that night while the girl was watching television with other young family members.

After passing through Lena’s head, the bullet grazed the nose of an 8-year-old cousin who was seated on a couch beside her, prosecutors said.

Authorities said they believe the intended target of the shooting was a group of family members, including Lena’s father, who was outside drinking in a garage behind the building in the 3500 block of West Dickens Avenue.

One person in the group, a concealed-carry permit holder, returned fire at the shooter and later got into a vehicle to chase after them, but was unable to locate anyone, prosecutors said.

No witnesses could identify Lara but some were able to give a general physical description of the shooter that matched Lara’s clothing and appearance that night, prosecutors said.

Christopher Lara

Christopher Lara

Chicago police mugshot

Evidence against Lara included descriptions and video footage of a fairly rare tan-colored 2010 Mercury Mariner SUV with a bike rack and broken tail light that was seen in the area before the shooting, prosecutors said.

Lara had allegedly been stopped by Chicago police in March while driving that SUV, and again in July by Streamwood police.

A cellphone number Lara supplied to police during the latter stop was used for a search warrant on the phone.

GPS records from the phone place Lara traveling to and from the area around the time of the shooting, prosecutors said.

A day after police publicly released a photo of the SUV, an associate of Lara allegedly texted him and told him that he needed to get rid of the vehicle.

Prosecutors didn’t say in court Thursday whether there were other suspects involved in the shooting and police said the investigation was ongoing.

Lara’s defense attorney stressed that no one had identified his client as shooter and that there was no physical evidence tying him to the murder.

Judge Susana Ortiz agreed the evidence was circumstantial, but said that she was swayed by it and concluded Lara would be a danger to the community if he was released while he awaited trial on murder and attempted murder charges. She ordered Lara held without bail.

Lara lives with family, including an infant son, attends church in Logan Square and has been working as a landscaper, his attorney said.

Lara is expected back in court on Aug. 25.

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