An outburst of road rage Friday night on the Southwest Side ended with a 3-year-old boy killed in a barrage of gunfire in the backseat of his mother’s vehicle, where three other children escaped physical harm, according to Chicago police.
Authorities identified the slain toddler as Mateo Zastro, one of the city’s youngest victims of gun violence so far this year.
Mateo was riding with his mother and the other kids in an SUV about 8:40 p.m. in the West Lawn neighborhood’s 4400 block of West Marquette Road when a male opened fire from the backseat of a red car, police said.
Mateo was shot in the head and taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was initially listed in serious condition, authorities said. He died about eight hours later, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The wounded boy’s mother and the other three children weren’t hit by bullets, according to police, who said the shooter might have been in a red Dodge Charger or Ford Mustang.
At a Saturday afternoon news conference, CPD Cmdr. Brian Spreyne said the attack stemmed from a “road rage incident” involving the mother and an unknown vehicle that started on Cicero Avenue. It wasn’t clear what sparked the conflict.
No one was in custody as Area One detectives investigated.
The shooting happened near the home of Mateo and his family. Hours after the shooting, a child answered the door, said “no, no,” and then closed it.
Reached by phone, his mother declined to comment.
Roger Ramirez, who lives near the shooting scene, was shutting his curtains in his living room when he heard several gunshots.
He ducked down until the shooting stopped and heard cars speed away. A stray bullet lodged into the window frame of Ramirez’s house and shattered glass from the car window littered the intersection of West Marquette Road and South Kenneth Avenue.
“It’s just so sad to see it escalate to that and kill that little boy,” Ramirez said the morning after the attack. “I moved here recently because I thought it was a safe neighborhood.”
Ismeal Fernandez, another neighborhood resident, said it sounded like a car crash, which isn’t uncommon on that stretch of Marquette.
But after more shots fired, he realized it was a shooting and ran to check on his elderly parents. Outside, he saw the shattered glass from the car and shell casings.
“This never happens here, in the 20 years my parents and I have been in this house, something like this hasn’t happened,” Fernandez said.
Mateo’s mother drove off from the shooting scene before flagging down officers for help, according to police radio transmissions that document the early moments of Chicago’s latest gun tragedy involving a child. One of the first responding officers quickly identified it as a case of road rage.
Dispatchers first broadcast an alert to 8th District officers at 8:38 p.m. of possible gunfire near Marquette and South Kenneth Avenue. The city’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system indicated 10 high-capacity rounds were fired somewhere in the vicinity of that residential Southwest Side intersection.
Within two minutes, an officer found the SUV with the mother and three children less than a mile away, near a shopping plaza at 66th Street and South Pulaski Road.
“I’m with the person shot,” the officer radioed, following up seconds later: “I have a child shot.”
She told a dispatcher: “I’m taking the child to Christ Hospital. I need someone to go sit with the car on 66th and Pulaski.”
Another officer radioed, “There’s a few other kids in the car.” The sound of children sobbing could be heard in the background.
Back on Marquette, where investigators determined the shots were fired, officers found broken glass at the Kenneth Avenue intersection and bullet holes in the window of a home nearby, according to police radio dispatches.
“They’re saying it was road rage,” another officer radioed. “And a red Mustang was involved.”
At least 284 minors have been shot in Chicago so far this year, according to records kept by the Sun-Times. Forty-three of those victims aged 17 or younger have died.
Among the minors, the city so far this year has seen 33 gunshot victims aged 12 or younger. Six of those youngsters died.
Mateo wasn’t even the youngest to be gunned down in 2022. Little Cecilia Thomas, just 5 months old, was shot in the head in a South Shore neighborhood attack in June.
The tragedy has spanned the city. Melissa Ortega, 8, was killed in January in the South Lawndale neighborhood. Devin McGregor, 5, died days after an August shooting in Rogers Park. And the South Side has seen two 12-year-olds slain: Marcell Wilson in January, and Nyzireya Moore in March.
The city has also seen several cases of road rage devolving into heinous acts this year. Last month, an off-duty police officer was wounded in an apparent traffic conflict, and in August, a man was stabbed to death at a busy River North intersection in another case of road rage.
Contributing: Cindy Hernandez
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Source : https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2022/9/30/23381543/3-year-old-boy-shot-killed-west-lawn-drive-by-marquette-kenneth-mateo-zastro-chicago