Vigil held for Chicago teen killed in Whiting, Indiana shooting while visiting relatives

Victim's father, Alexander Villa, appealing conviction for 2011 murder of off-duty CPD Officer Clifton Lewis

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Sunday, April 21, 2024
Vigil held for Chicago teen shot, killed in NW Indiana
A Chicago teen, 14-year-old Damien Abenante-Villa, was killed in a shooting last month in Whiting, Indiana on LaPorte Avenue near Ohio Avenue.

WHITING, Ind. (WLS) -- Family and friends gathered to remember a Chicago teen shot and killed while visiting family in Northwest Indiana.

The 14-year-old boy, Damien Abenante-Villa, was gunned down in front of his loved ones nearly a month ago in Whiting, Indiana.

The boy's family is demanding answers from police, while his father is fighting for more answers in his own high-profile case.

The boy's father, Alexander Villa, was sentenced to life in prison last year, convicted in the shooting death of off-duty Chicago police officer Clifton Lewis in 2011, but controversy remains surrounding the conviction.

Villa's only son was remembered Saturday in Whiting, at the very spot where he was killed right in front of his friends and cousins.

"We are here to fight against the evil and fight for the justice," a pastor at the vigil said.

Heartache and anger fill the void of the many hearts gathered at the shooting scene near LaPorte and Ohio Avenues in Whiting.

"She lived for him. It is all she knows is how to be his mom," the victim's aunt, Nicole Abenante, said.

The group surrounded a grieving mother, Amanda Abenante, on the same sidewalk where her 14-year-old son Damien was shot and killed.

"I'm broken and I'm crushed," Amanda said. "That was my whole world, and he's gone... he's gone."

The shooting happened in late March, when the Chicago teen was visiting his family in Northwest Indiana for his cousin's 15th birthday. He was walking with his cousins and friends to a park, when police say shots were fired in their direction.

"Within a couple minutes of leaving the house... we got the horrifying call Damien had been shot," Nicole said.

Damien's family continues to plead with Whiting town leaders and police for answers in the teen's murder.

"It's going to be a month, what, four weeks since the day that this happened, and I have no answers," Amanda said.

Alexander Villa was sentenced last year for the murder of Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis. His attorney, Jennifer Blagg, is appealing with new evidence, fighting for the father to be exonerated.

READ MORE | Years after Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis' murder, 3 men charged could soon walk free

Villa's sentence came two months after two of his co-defendants had their cases thrown out. Their defense attorneys accused police and prosecutors of coercing confessions.

Villa's attorney said he was framed.

"If Alex had gotten out, he told me then, he was like, 'I'm going to take my family to Florida to get away from this.' And so, now, he can never do that. It's just unbelievably sad," Blagg said.

Nearly a month after Damien was killed, so far police have yet to release a motive behind the shooting. No one has been arrested.