The man was identified as 26-year-old Luis Alberto Aguilar Peres, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. Autopsy results were pending.
This was the first publicly known death at a city-owned facility since large numbers of immigrants began arriving in Chicago last year. Since August, the city has taken in nearly 10,000 migrants.
About 6:15 a.m. June 2, officers responded to a call of a man who was "foaming at the mouth and unresponsive" at the former Wadsworth Elementary School building, 6420 S. University Ave., according to an alert from the Chicago Police Department obtained by the Sun-Times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives were conducting a death investigation, indicating that they believe his death was not the result of a crime.
Angel Pacheco, who got to know Peres when the two arrived at the temporary shelter, said he wasn’t sure what caused his friend’s death, but added that Peres talked about having heart issues.
"He was a very good person," said Pacheco, 35.
Peres was a father and husband who made the long journey from Venezuela to the United States for a better life, Pacheco said. He has a sister in New York whom he wanted to visit.
"The last time we spoke he talked about wanting to save money to buy a home," Pacheco said, adding that Peres had a job at a Jewel-Osco not far from the temporary shelter.
The makeshift community at the shuttered school is holding a memorial service for Peres Saturday at noon at Concord Missionary Baptist Church at 6319 S. Kimbark Ave. They hope to collect donations to transport Peres’ remains back to his family in Venezuela.
Pacheco said he’s heard some ugly rumors about Peres’ death. They’re not true, he said.
"We didn’t come here to cause problems or create a scandal," Pacheco said. "What we really want is to provide for our families, to have a future."
Contributing: Tom Schuba