Retired Marine killed while trying to stop carjacker in Oak Park

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A 24-year-old retired Marine was killed after trying to stop a carjacker in west suburban Oak Park Sunday night, police said. (WLS)

A 24-year-old retired Marine was killed after trying to stop a carjacker in west suburban Oak Park Sunday night, police said.

Christopher Florez, his girlfriend Veronica Licea, and Licea's young daughter left their 2016 Dodge Challenger running outside a Jewel in the 7000-block of Roosevelt Road while browsing Redbox around 6:40 p.m. That's when an unknown man got in the driver's seat of the car, Oak Park Police said.

Licea said she watched her boyfriend run after the car and stick his hand through the window, grabbing the steering wheel to try to stop the thief. He was dragged down the street and out of sight, she said.

"He was holding onto it because he wanted I guess to turn it around or for the driver to crash. I don't know what he was trying to do I just know that he was trying to stop the car," Licea said.

Florez's body was thrown into the southbound lanes of Harlem Ave. near Fillmore Street.

Police later spotted the car and began following it. Two men ditched the car in Chicago in the 5500-block of West Monroe.

Florez, a Westchester resident who worked at an electronics shop, was taken to Loyola University Medical center in Maywood, where he died three hours later, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

"I'm feeling a lot of things because it wasn't supposed to happen like this, he wasn't supposed to leave like that. He was too young," said Licea.

Witnesses described the carjacker as a black man between the ages of 30 and 40 with a thin build and short braids. He was wearing a black sweater.

Oak Park police said a person of interest was being held Monday morning for questioning. The car was recovered, officials said.

Anyone with information should call (708) 386-3800. Anonymous tips can be submitted at (708) 434-1636 or online at www.oak-park.us/crimetip.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this story.

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