Relatives of teen wrestler fatally shot outside her Chicago home plead for justice

A youngster who wrestled on the Chicago highschool she had just lately graduated from was fatally shot whereas she sat in a parked automobile exterior her residence, and her grieving kinfolk pleaded with the general public to assist police discover who killed her.

The lady, Melissa de la Garza, 18, died after she was shot a number of occasions Saturday night time within the West Elsdon neighborhood on the southwest aspect of Chicago.

“It is arduous to place into phrases the loss that we’re feeling,” her father, Jose de la Garza, stated Sunday, NBC Chicago reported. With tears welling up in his eyes, he stated his daughter was a “warrior princess.”

He stated she excelled at wrestling at Solorio Academy Excessive College, taking second place within the state. She had additionally earned a scholarship to attend the College of the Artwork Institute of Chicago, NBC Chicago reported.

“For somebody to return and take that away for no cause, it would not make any sense,” he stated at a information convention.

Jose de la Garza advised NBC Information on Tuesday that his household was “hanging in there.”

“We’re robust, and we’re inching daily ahead,” he stated.

De la Garza’s mom stated in Spanish that the household could have extra to say throughout funeral companies this weekend. With emotion in her voice, she referred to as her daughter by her nickname, “Azul,” which suggests blue in Spanish.

Police stated the slaying occurred about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. De la Garza, who was in a parked automobile, had “a number of gunshot wounds to the torso” and was hospitalized in crucial situation. An unidentified male “fled the scene on foot,” police stated.

There had been no arrests as of Tuesday afternoon, police stated.

Chicago Public College officers chronicled De la Garza’s experiences as an athlete in 2018 in an interview referred to as “Meet Solorio’s Solely Feminine Wrestler.” She was a 15-year-old freshman on the time.

She stated of being the one woman on the wrestling workforce, “I actually do not consider I am that particular for being the one feminine wrestler.”

“I strongly consider that there needs to be extra ladies within the sport,” de la Garza stated. “I bear in mind after I first began wrestling. In our first workforce assembly I had by no means felt so many eyes on me. There have been about 25 guys within the room and this small woman, me, simply walks in.”

She stated within the interview that her household have been her greatest supporters.

“Even when my mother is terrified that I’ll come residence with a damaged arm at some point, she nonetheless helps me and needs me to do my greatest,” she stated.

Based on citywide statistics from police, there had been 602 slayings this yr as of final week, in contrast with 580 slayings throughout the identical interval final yr.

De la Garza’s older sister, Isabel de la Garza, stated she could not fathom why somebody would shoot her little sister, NBC Chicago reported. She stated they just lately spoke on FaceTime about Halloween costumes.

“Bye, I really like you, Isabel,” she recalled her sister saying. “And that was the final time I used to be capable of communicate to my sister — by a display screen.”

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