Teen charged in boy's slaying

Chicago Sun-Times,  Apr 2, 2002  by Janet Rausa Fuller

While 12-year-old murder victim Carlos Sanchez was remembered at a funeral in the Back of the Yards church where he was baptized, a reputed gang member authorities say instigated the shooting was in court Monday on murder charges.

Ernesto Flores, 19, of the 4800 block of South Wood, didn't pull the trigger in the shooting last Thursday, but gave the order to a second person who is still at large, prosecutors said.

Flores has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Criminal Court Judge John Kirby ordered him held on a $1.5 million bond.

A reputed member of the Latin Souls gang, Flores said in a written statement to police that he "encouraged the shooting," Cmdr. Frank Trigg of the Area 1 Detective division said.

Detectives are seeking a second person--a Hispanic male teenager-- who "could possibly be the shooter," Trigg said. "This is someone who definitely needs to come in and at least tell his side."

Prosecutors said Flores and the suspect at large were looking for rival gang members when they approached Carlos and his friend in the 4600 block of South Honore--one block south of Carlos' home.

Flores and his companion flashed gang signs and yelled gang slogans at the boys, Cook County state's attorney Cristin Duffy said.

"Are you talking to us?," said Carlos, a 7th grader at Augustin Lara elementary school.

That's when Flores "gave the order" and his companion pulled out a gun, firing five or six shots, said Jodee Sargeant, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

Carlos was shot in the head. His friend, who later identified Flores to police, suffered a graze wound to the head. After the shooting, Flores and the other suspect went to Flores' girlfriend's house, authorities said.

The gun, a .357 Magnum, was recovered at the scene. In his statement to police, Flores said his companion was carrying the gun.

This isn't the first time Flores has faced murder charges.

Court records show that in July 2000, he was charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and armed violence- -a total of 12 counts--after allegedly shooting a man in the 4700 block of South Paulina. He was found not guilty by a jury last October.

At Carlos' funeral at Holy Cross-Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on South Wood Street, Carlos' brother, Esgael, 15, kept one arm around his mom, Victoria Cruz, while sisters Heidy, 14, Ruby, 10, and Heriberta, 7, sat close by.

The service drew many of Carlos' classmates and staff members from Lara, as well as area families and principals from the nearby Seward, Chavez and Hamline schools.

The Rev. Bruce Wellems called on residents to stick together amid the gang violence and gunfire that has plagued the neighborhood.

"Holding Carlos in our hearts is something that will give us hope," Wellems said.