CHICAGO - Two people have been charged in connection with the killing of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega who was fatally shot Saturday in Little Village.
Police arrested the suspected gunman, a 16-year-old boy, and the alleged getaway driver at the time of the shooting, a 27-year-old man.
"Our city has been shaken, and no one can make sense of this tragedy," said Chicago Police Supt. David Brown at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "This morning, I spoke with Melissa's mother, in her home, not only to check in on her during this especially tough time, but to also let her know we found the offenders responsible for taking Melissa's life."
At the same news conference, Melissa's mother issued an emotional statement regarding the charges filed in her daughter's murder, and spoke directly to the gunman.
"We came in search of the American dream we so famously hear of, but instead I get to live a nightmare for the rest of my life," said Melissa's mother.
The 16-year-old has been charged with one felony count of first-degree murder, one felony count of attempted first-degree murder and two felony counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm in an occupied vehicle.
The driver, Xavier Guzman, is charged with one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of attempted first-degree murder. In addition, Guzman has also been charged with aggravated UUW.
Melissa Ortega, 8 | Xavier Guzman, 27, charged with Melissa's murder | Credit: CPD
Guzman was taken into custody Monday after homicide investigators pulled over a Toyota Camry believed to have been used in Saturday’s shooting on 26th Street near Pulaski Road.
The suspect was behind the wheel and a loaded gun was found in the driver’s side door, according to a police report.
Chicago police said the gun recovered matched the casings and fired bullets at the scene.
The juvenile was taken into custody Tuesday.
"To the aggressor, I forgive you. You were a victim too. As a 16-year-old, the community failed you, just like it failed my precious baby," said Melissa's mother.
Melissa was walking with her mother on Saturday in Little Village when a gunman emerged from a nearby alley and opened fire, unleashing a hail of bullets that fatally struck the 8-year-old girl twice in the head and wounded a gang member who was the intended target, a police report shows.
When the shots rang out, Melissa’s mother recalled running toward a bank when she felt her daughter "go limp," according to the report. That’s when she realized Melissa had been shot twice in the right side of her head.
After officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert and found Melissa at the corner of 26th and Pulaski, paramedics responded and brought her to Stroger Hospital, where she was pronounced dead less than two hours later, according to the report and an official statement from Chicago police.
The intended target, a 29-year-old man, who has been arrested 13 times and convicted of two felonies, was struck twice in the back, the report states. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, police said.
On Monday, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown the city would "spare no expense" and exhaust every resource to bring Melissa's killer to justice.
Ortega moved to the U.S. from Mexico last August to start a better life with her family and to pursue the American Dream.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.