Berwyn man is 2nd charged in summer murder of girl, 7
Less than a week after their first arrest in the case, Chicago Police investigating the murder of 7-year-old Ana Mateo on Saturday announced the second and final arrest of an alleged gang member in the killing.
Justin Chapman, 23, of Berwyn, an alleged Latin Counts member, was charged Friday with first-degree murder as a participant in the killing, police said. Bond was set at $1.5 million, and Chapman is scheduled to appear in Violence Court on Monday, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office said.
Last week, Victor Garcia, 16, of the Southwest Side, allegedly also a member of the Latin Counts gang, was charged with first- degree murder and being the shooter in the girl's death. Garcia was ordered held without bail.
Ana was killed by a stray bullet last August as she played on her front porch.
Chapman was arrested Friday at a friend's home in Riverside by police Detectives Frank Luera and Anthony Robinson and U.S. Marshals Geff Shank and Matthew Block of the Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force.
"This is the second and last offender," said Harrison District Sgt. James Jones. "It's heartwarming to everyone involved that this case has come to a conclusion, based on the fact a 7-year-old kid was killed through gang conflict."
Harrison Area homicide Detectives John Pellegrini and Robert Rodriguez, who pursued the case for six months, agreed.
"It's nice to close this chapter," Pellegrini said.
Dad feels 'sad' for teenager who allegedly killed daughter
When the teenager accused of killing their 7-year-old daughter walked into a Cook County courtroom Monday, Maria Mateo buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Her husband, Federico Mateo, simply shook his head in shell-shocked disbelief.
Later, Federico Mateo had no angry words for 16-year-old Juan Victor Garcia. "I was sad for him," Mateo said in halting English as he sat in his Pilsen home, surrounded by half a dozen photographs of Ana Mateo, his slain daughter.
In truth, the 5-foot-4-inch Garcia didn't look particularly menacing -- his plump, unblemished face scanning the courtroom for other familiar faces.
But Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan thought otherwise, ordering Garcia held without bail on a first-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors argued that Garcia -- nicknamed "Lil' Vamp" and sometimes "Drac" -- is a member of the Latin Counts gang, and that Garcia opened fire on a man he believed to be a rival gang member on Aug. 20, 2003. But instead, one of Garcia's bullets hit and killed Ana Mateo as she played on the front steps of her family's home in the 2300 block of West 18th Place.
Prosecutors said Garcia hit Mateo as he was chasing a man he believed to be a member of the Satan Disciples gang.
There is no evidence to show the intended target is a member of a street gang, prosecutors said Monday.
After the shooting, Garcia and fellow gang members fled to a nearby Latin Counts house, where they learned from a police scanner that Ana Mateo had been hit.
Garcia, a Collins High School junior, was charged this week, after police arrested two Latin Counts members last month on unrelated charges.
Both fingered Garcia as Ana Mateo's shooter.
After Garcia's arrest, witnesses identified him in three separate lineups as the shooter, prosecutors said.
Garcia's family also sat in court Monday, but walked briskly away after the hearing, refusing to talk to waiting reporters.
A few hours later, at the Mateo home -- where a faded wooden shrine filled with candles, flowers and a ceramic Virgin Mary sits on the pavement outside -- Federico Mateo quietly showed a visitor photographs of Ana, him and his wife's youngest child. One showed a beaming Ana sitting next to Santa Claus.
Mateo said he's given no thought to what should happen to Garcia if he's found guilty.
"I can't make a decision right now," he said. "Maybe later."