Lyft driver killed in Near West Side shooting ‘was a loving and wonderful person’

On Monday night, Milton Pillacella-Ayora picked up a Lyft passenger and was stopped at a red light when a silver SUV pulled up and someone inside opened fire, police say.

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An attempted robbery at a South Shore store Friday night ended with two men dead.

Sun-Times file

Milton Pillacella-Ayora had come to Chicago from Ecuador as a teenager and was working as a driver for the Lyft ride-hailing service to save up money for a house.

Monday night, Pillacella-Ayora picked up a Lyft passenger and was stopped at a red light on the Near West Side when a silver SUV pulled up and someone inside opened fire, according to Chicago police.

Pillacella-Ayora, 31, was taken to Stroger Hospital and pronounced dead. The passenger, 34, was taken to the hospital in fair condition with gunshot wounds to the legs.

Police said four people were in the SUV when someone fired at Pillacella-Ayora’s car around 9 p.m. at Roosevelt Road and Blue Island Avenue. No one was reported in custody.

Pillacella-Ayora was the eldest of four siblings and lived with his younger brother, according to his stepmother, Rosanita Leon, 55.

“He was a loving and wonderful person that was very hardworking,” Leon said. “He was not the kind of person to get involved with the wrong people.”

Leon said Pillacella-Ayora told her he planned to buy a house after saving up for years.

“He came to this country as an immigrant and worked so hard to achieve his dreams,” Leon said. “One never knows when your life will be cut short.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Lyft called the situation an “unspeakable tragedy.”

“Our hearts are with Mr. Pillacela Ayora’s loved ones and everyone impacted by this reprehensible incident,” the statement read. “We stand ready to support law enforcement with any investigations and are working to get in touch with Mr. Pillacela Ayora’s family and the rider to offer our support.”

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