Victim's families accuse CPS of inaction in wake of deadly shooting outside Benito Juarez HS

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, February 2, 2023
Victim's families accuse CPS of inaction in wake of deadly shooting outside Benito Juarez HS
A month after a shooting outside Benito Juarez High School, victims' families are calling on Chicago Public Schools to do more.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One month after two teens were killed outside a CPS high school, families are calling on the district to do more.

That shooting happened, shortly after the school day let out at Benito Juarez Community Academy.

Outrage joined grief as the families of the victims of the December shooting outside Benito Juarez High School accused the principal of the school and the head of CPS of obstructing the ongoing police investigation by not doing enough to help find the gunman responsible.

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Supporters said the inaction is the result of racial discrimination.

"The parents and the community believe that this inaction is the result of racial discrimination," said Netza Roldan, the CEO of Binational Institute of Human Development.

Wednesday morning, the mother of one of the teens killed was joined by other victims' families, community members and 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez to protest what they call disrespect they have received following the shooting.

"We deserve justice. These kids were young, they did not deserve this," said Ines Billegas, the mother of one of the Benito Juarez shooting victims.

Gunfire erupted December 17 just outside the Benito Juarez campus, killing 15-year-old Brandon Perez, a Benito Juarez student, and his friend, 14-year-old Nathan Billegas, a freshman at Chicago Bulls College Prep.

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Two other teenagers, a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, were hit by gunfire and are expected to fully recover, according to police.

They said CPS failed to keep students safe and their demands for school officials and police to release surveillance video of the attack have been ignored.

"Where's the justice?" Ines Billegas, mother of Nathan Billegas, said. "What's going on? What are you hiding? You should be willing helping us to know what happened."

Billegas said her son Nathan would have died in vain if there is no justice.

"We have already failed these families," Alderman Sigcho-Lopez said. "The least we can do is to give some resolving this crime and to put together an action plan."

They also said there are not enough resources to address students left traumatized by the violence.

"He's doing well but we are still afraid that the perpetrators are still there," said one woman, whose son was wounded in the shooting.

While at an unrelated event, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez declined to directly comment, but in a statement a spokesperson said, "Chicago Public Schools remain committed to supporting students' needs everyday and particularly following a tragedy. In the month since the tragedy at Benito Juarez Community Academy High School, the District implemented several safety and social emotional supports in partnership with other community-based organizations and the Chicago Police Department to support students, families, and staff. Information regarding those supports is communicated in writing to staff and families at a school and also through community meetings with parents. We are committed to continuing to build on this work at Benito Juarez Community Academy High School community just like we do for any school community."

A written statement from the Chicago Police Department said the investigation is still active and that "the detectives and family liaison officers have been in communication with victims and families and will continue to update them on the progress of this investigation."

The families of the victims and their supporters said they deserve justice and said they will continue to protest until they get it.

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