Angelina Rodriguez’s bandaged leg will heal. Years from now, the toddler might not even remember the shooting.
But her mother won’t forget.
“It’s been a constant struggle. I have nightmares for my daughter,” Perla Rodriguez said with her 2-year-old girl in her arms at their West Side home, a week after the drive-by attack that unfolded steps away from the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
“She’s autistic on top of it, so it’s really hard because she can’t tell me what she’s feeling, or if she’s in pain. But overall, she’s been smiling, so I’m just glad she’s okay,” the young mother said.
Angelina was indeed all smiles Saturday as some of the 10th District Chicago police officers who helped track down two men accused in the shooting delivered toys for the girl and her 9-month old sister, who was also in the SUV with their parents when the gunfire erupted May 14 at 26th Street and California Boulevard.
Two of the men allegedly responsible for wounding Angelina were jailed without bail Friday on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery. Police are searching for at least one more person in connection with the attack.
Authorities say the men thought they were shooting at rival gang members when they opened fire.
“We were just driving here to my house and they pulled up along. Nothing was said, nothing was thrown up at us, nothing. They just started shooting at us and my daughter got hit,” said Perla Rodriguez, who was at the wheel and sped straight to Mount Sinai Hospital.
“I had to take even a one-way street because I was just panicking and I just wanted to get my baby — I didn’t know where she was bleeding, and I was scared. I was scared for her,” she said.
Fortunately, the bullet that entered Angelina’s little leg didn’t cause any structural damage. She’s expected to make a full recovery.
“It’s been a miracle,” her mother said. “She’s good. She’s in some pain. She tries to walk, but it hurts her. She’s recovering, though.”
In the meantime, Angelina has plenty of new “Little Mermaid” toys — her favorite — to keep her busy.
Angelina was the youngest of 48 people shot across the city last weekend, the most violent one yet in 2021.
She’s among nine children younger than 13 have been hit by gunfire in Chicago so far this year, according to records kept by the Chicago Sun-Times. A 15-year-old boy was murdered in Lawndale late Friday.
“These babies need to be able to enjoy life the regular way,” said Marvin Edwards of the anti-gang violence group 100 Men Standing. “We asked them — all in the city that don’t have a heart — put the damn guns down.”