Parolee ‘brutally, coldly’ shot 4 people at Portage Park bar, standing over some as they lay wounded and firing again: prosecutors

Prosecutors said Samuel Parsons-Salas later admitted to someone he had shot “everyone who called out his name.”

SHARE Parolee ‘brutally, coldly’ shot 4 people at Portage Park bar, standing over some as they lay wounded and firing again: prosecutors

Mercedes Imari, 24, Mario Pozuelos, 26, and Ricky Vera, 50, were killed in a shooting Sunday outside Vera Lounge in Portage Park.


Samuel Parsons-Salas “brutally, coldly” shot four people at a birthday party at a Portage Park bar last weekend, standing over some of them as they lay wounded and shooting them in the head, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.

Parsons-Salas, a 32-year-old parolee, was particularly “cold-blooded” when he approached Mariah Vera, whose 25th birthday was being celebrated at the Vera Lounge early Sunday, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers.

Vera was kneeling over her wounded father when Parsons-Salas walked up and shot her in the head at close range, Rodgers said.

Vera was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, but her father Ricky Vera, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two of Mariah Vera’s friends were also killed: Mercedes Imari, 24, and Mario Pozuelos, 26.

Prosecutors said Parsons-Salas later admitted to someone that he shot “everyone who called out his name.”

Parsons-Salas and his girlfriend had been attending the party when he struck Mariah Vera around 2:30 a.m. during a “physical altercation,” Rodgers said.

Parsons-Salas left the bar in the 5500 block of West School Street, followed by a group of people including Ricky Vera who demanded to know who had struck his daughter, prosecutors said.

Parsons-Salas’s girlfriend tried to get between the two men before her boyfriend drew a gun and fired, striking Ricky Vera in the head and chest and also hitting Pozuelos, who collapsed on a curb, prosecutors said. 

As the crowd screamed and scattered, Parsons-Salas walked past Vera and her father, firing off one shot at her, then rushed up to Pozuelos and fired with the gun close to Pozuelos’ face, Rodgers said.

Parsons-Salas then walked back to a parked SUV where his girlfriend had gotten into the driver’s seat, but he apparently noticed Imari hiding behind a white van.

The video shows Parsons-Salas firing toward her and walking away, but then stopping and turning and firing one more shot, prosecutors said.

Ricky Vera and Pozuelos were pronounced dead on the scene. Imari was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where she died. Mariah Vera remains in critical condition at Mount Sinai with shattered fragments of her skull embedded in her brain, prosecutors said. 

After the shooting, Parsons-Salas got into the passenger side of his girlfriend’s SUV and demanded at gunpoint that she drive him home, threatening to kill her, prosecutors said. 

Along the way, she crashed the SUV in an attempt to escape but he allegedly demanded she keep driving and had her take him to an apartment in the 5200 block of West Montrose Avenue, Rodgers said. He then forced her to stay in the apartment.

Investigators, who had learned Parsons-Salas was on parole, got his information from the Illinois Department of Corrections and learned he was hiding in the apartment on Montrose, prosecutors said. 

The following day, police officers went to the apartment and took him into custody as he tried to escape out the back of the home, prosecutors said. 

Several people identified Parsons-Salas as the shooter, and prosecutors said he made admissions to someone.


Samuel Parsons-Salas

Chicago police

An assistant public defender said her office had little opportunity to review the evidence, but noted Parsons-Salas had been in regular contact with his parole officer since being released from prison. 

In January 2014, Parsons-Salas was charged in a home invasion in Albany Park in which two people were shot to death. Parsons-Salas initially faced two counts of first-degree murder, but he pleaded guilty to two counts of armed home invasion, carrying eight-year prison sentences. He was paroled in September.

In denying bail, Judge Barbara Dawkins began to describe the shooting as “cold-blooded” but stopped herself and said she “wouldn’t editorialize.” 

After noting the identification of Parsons-Salas by several witness, the video of the shootings and his previous record of violence, the judge ordered him held without bail. 

He was expected back in court Jan. 2.

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