Vigil held for girl, 8, killed in rival gang crossfire; Little Village asks for mental health clinic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many gathered at the Little Village corner Saturday where 8-year-old Melissa Ortega lost her life one week ago.

"You know, it's really emotional because as much as we want to be here to support, we really don't want to be here," said Delilah Martinez, with the Mural Movement.

The community sang a song of sorrow, not only through music, but cheers and chanting as well. People made their voices heard as they marched down 26th Street toward Pulaski Avenue where the little girl was killed in the crossfire between rival gang members as she walked with her mother.

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"This affects me in many ways because this affects my community," Martinez said. "My family is from Little Village and from Pilsen, and I could just imagine if this was my daughter, or my cousin or my little sister."

Martinez said they plan to create a mural for Ortega near where she was fatally shot as her mother tried taking cover from gunfire.

The young girl had recently moved to Chicago a few months earlier from Mexico.

The community is now crying out as they demand better for their families.

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Chicago Police Supt. David Brown and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx discuss murder charges filed in the Little Village shooting death of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega.

"The community showing up here today even though it's not summer, it proves that we have a heart," said one woman. "It proves that there is hope and faith and that we can stop this violence. We need more opportunities for our youth. We need music, we need dance."

"We are tired of this. We are out here and getting shot at," said one man who came to support the community effort. "I got a bullet right here, and a bunch of these guys out here have bullet holes. And there's no change."

One of the demands the Little Village Community Council is asking for is a mental health clinic in the neighborhood, saying their community desperately needs a free resource to combat the trauma so often experienced.

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"Generations after generations of violence, the individual is traumatized. From the aggressor to the victim, they're both traumatized," said Baltazar Enriquez, Little Village Community Council president.

A 16-year-old boy is one of two now charged in the young girl's murder.

"Somebody that killed her was 16 and 27. They too are a victim of the system," Martinez said. "We just need to do better all-around for our youth."
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