7 more to be charged in Joliet father's death

July 3, 2008 3:50:34 PM PDT
Eight people have been charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of a father who was shot and killed in front of his children. Alfredo Lopez was caught in gang crossfire as he ran an errand in Joliet back in April.

The alleged gunman turned himself in a few days after the shooting. Now seven other men are also in custody. What makes this a unique case is that the seven reputed gang members are facing first degree murder charges, even though police say they didn't fire a gun.

It was back on the evening of April 16 in the parking lot of the Walgreens at 358 E. Cass St in Joliet: 40-year-old Alfredo Lopez was walking into the store with his two sons, ages 8 and 11. He was buying them school supplies. Across the street a fight started between two rival gangs outside the Subway sandwich shop. Joliet police say 18-year-old Daniel Huizar pulled out a gun and started shooting. One of the bullets hit Lopez in the back, right in front of his two sons. The boys ran into the store, but their father did not survive.

"When this incident occurred in April, we had quite a bit of activity going on out in the streets, and this was just another example of a helpless victim, not involved in any type of a gangbanging, activity to be struck down, an innocent bystander," said Fred Hayes, Joliet police chief.

The alleged gunman, Huizar, turned himself in a few days after the shooting. But Joliet police decided to find the others involved in the fight.

Thanks to security cameras outside the Subway, detectives were able to identify and arrest seven more alleged gang members from the area: 19-year-old Reyes Velasquez, 18-year-old Miguel Garcia, 20-year-old Juan Ornelas, 20-year-old Jose Aguierre, 20-year-old Sergio Garcia, 20-year-old Erik Perez and 19-year-old Fabian Vargas. Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow is charging all with first degree murder, even though police say they didn't pull the trigger or use weapons.

"I think this is the most expansive use of the felony murder based on mob action that we've ever had occasion to use, but the facts in this particular case justify it," Glasgow said.

Will County and Joliet officials are using the case to send a strong message to gang members: anyone who participates in a fight that results in a death can face first degree murder charges.

"Anyone who attaches themself to this mob action and promotes, and facilitates with the intent to aid and abet, they can be sucked into this and be charged the same as the person who pulled the trigger," said Glasgow.

Family members of Alfredo Lopez said Thursday they are relieved the suspects have been caught.

The reputed gang members face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.


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