Little Village Community Stepped Up To Help Solve 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega’s Murder; Retired Police Commander Concerned About Handling Of Juvenile Suspects

CHICAGO (CBS) – Oftentimes, people are afraid to speak up, offer tips, or report what they saw when it comes to a crime.

In the case of the murder of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega in Little Village this past weekend, such was not the case at all. As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the Little Village community was crucial in helping solve Melissa’s murder.

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Leaders here in Little Village are not celebrating the charges announced Wednesday. But that say it shows how this neighborhood stepped up and helped solve the shooting.

Meanwhile, the path to justice is beginning for Melissa, who was shot and killed while on her way on Saturday afternoon 26th Street and Pulaski Road in Little Village.

A 16-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man – Xavier Guzman – are now charged with murdering the little girl, who recently moved to Chicago from Mexico with her family.

“When an 8-year-old is shot in the middle of the day by a 16-year-old – that’s definitely problematic,” said retired Chicago Police Commander of Youth Investigations Patty Casey.

Patty Casey recently retired after 31 years with the Chicago Police Department. She oversaw crimes committed by kids.

“We can not just dismiss the kid when we dismiss the case,” Casey said.

READ MORE: Teen Charged In 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega’s Murder Has Criminal Record For Carjacking And Gun Charges

The veteran commander points to a lack of legal consequences, ineffective youth programs. In her eyes, most troubling is that the courts in some cases will wipe a violent history clean when a juvenile turns 18.

“It’s harder to put a program or referral for this child together if we do not know the whole story,” Casey said. “We see the child back two weeks later committing the same crime.”

Melissa and her mom were hand-in-hand Saturday on the way from the bank to get a hamburger when they found themselves in the middle of a gang, war according to police. The unnamed 16-year-old defendant, who will be tried as an adult, is accused of shooting at three known gang members standing near Melissa. Guzman is the suspected getaway driver.

“It was business owners and the community that solved the crime,” said Balatzar Enriquez, President of the Little Village Community Council.

Enriquez said his neighborhood broke the code of silence and stood up – helping police with video evidence and information. City and county leaders say that assistance led to the arrests.

“When this community gets attacked, everybody defends it, so we came out and defended the immigrant community,” Enriquez said.

Money is being raised to send Melissa’s body back to Mexico.

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Both people charged will make their first court appearance Thursday.


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