Gunfire kills Evanston high school student

May 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Omar Estrada, 18, was shot at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday in Touhy Park in Rogers Park. The family of the teenager says he was a fine young man who kept to himself and was looking forward to getting a summer job.

Estrada's maternal grandmother Maria Laguna told ABC7 in Spanish that she does not know what happened except that they shot and killed her grandson, that he was a happy young man and never a part of any gang activity. She added that the family spent the night crying and grieving the loss, and that her daughter is heartbroken.

"He was a happy guy. He liked to play soccer. If he could, he would play every day. His favorite color is red, and this is his sweater," said Estrada's sister Kimberly Gervacio.

Gervacio says the family just moved to the 1500-block of West Howard Street in Evanston, and that her brother apparently went out Thursday evening to meet with some female friends. Police confirmed that the young man was sitting on a park bench talking with female companions when shots rang out and they saw him lying on the ground hit in the head. Estrada was pronounced dead Friday morning at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston according to the Cook County Medical Examiner. Gervacio says her family is having as hard time.

Maria Vasques lives nearby and takes her children to Touhy Park for playtime about three to four times a week. She just learned of the fatal shooting.

"I am surprised to hear this," Vasques said. "This is disturbing."

"I feel bad. They need the police here," said another neighborhood resident, Monica Resendez.

Police say they have not had any recent problems at Touhy Park, although residents say they are concerned about gang activity and graffiti in the park.

"We have to stop the gangs from coming to our parks and recruiting," said Tony Iniquez with the Touhy Park Advisory.

Police have questioned the girls and they are not suspects. As of late Friday, they have no one in custody. Belmont area detectives are investigating the shooting.

Evanston school superintendent Eric Witherspoon said the victim had attended Evanston Township High School earlier this year and that students at the school are now receiving crisis counseling.

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