CHICAGO - Axel Robledo was celebrating his grandmother’s birthday with family this month on the Lower West Side when he and a group of relatives decided to take a quick trip to a nearby store.
On their way back to the party, two people opened fire on the group, striking Axel, 13, in the right side of his head. He was rushed to Stroger Hospital, initially in "extremely" critical condition, according to Chicago police officials.
But after undergoing two surgeries, Axel continues to improve and is even joking around with hospital staff, his mom, Sonia Salgado, said Tuesday, adding that he still has a long road to recovery ahead.
"I have a little but more hope now, and I’m much better than I was when I first got here," Salgado said. "He’s very strong."
Salgado, 37, said Axel was still having trouble moving the left side of his body. He has another surgery scheduled for two to three months from now, she said. "It’s hard seeing how much pain he is in.
"But I am very hopeful now that things are going to get better, and hopefully with physical therapy he’ll be able to recover his strength," Salgado said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses.
As the days go by Axel remembers more of what happened the night of the shooting and has been having nightmares, Salgado said.
"I’m telling him that he is safe and that nobody is going to do nothing to him anymore," his mom said.
The Sept. 13 shooting was called a "random act of violence" by Chicago police officials. None of the family members with Axel at the time of the shooting have gang affiliations.
Isaiah M. Renteria, 22, and Pedro Molina, 23, have been charged with first-degree attempted murder in connection with the attack, which happened in the 1800 block of West 21st Place. Renteria also has been charged with fleeing police.
The two had been circling the block in a black Dodge Charger before the shooting, officials said. They were arrested in La Grange later that day.
"I am glad they caught them. They’re not going to be able to do something like this to anybody else," Salgado said.
Axel is a "very active boy who has a lot of friends in school," his mom said, adding that he loves playing soccer and she’d recently bought him a new pair of cleats. "He was very excited about them," she said.
Axel also loves movies and has seen almost everything on Netflix, she said.
He’d gotten accepted for an advanced algebra class in school and was excited to start, his mom said.
"He is very sweet, and his loved ones, everybody is waiting for him," Salgado said.