Little Girl, 8, Dies After Being Struck by Stray Bullet

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An 8-year-old Chicago girl has been tragically killed after being shot in the head by a gunman who was allegedly targeting someone else.

The little girl, identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as Melissa Ortega, was walking down the street with her mother on Saturday afternoon when the incident occurred, according to a police report. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the gunman’s intended target was a 26-year-old alleged gang member, according to police.

Ortega was pronounced dead at the hospital the same day, while the 26-year-old, who was shot in the back, was hospitalized in critical condition. As of Sunday, police do not have an update on the man’s condition and no one has been brought into custody in connection with the crime. 

Police Superintendent David Brown says that the department “will not rest” until whoever is responsible has been brought to justice.

“The tragic and senseless murder of 8-year-old Melissa has shaken our city,” he tweeted Sunday. “There are no words of comfort when a child’s life is cut short. There are no words that can describe the grief of a family.”

Melissa Ortega was a student at Chicago’s Emiliano Zapata Academy. Just last year, she emigrated with her mother from Mexico, where her funeral is expected to be held.

“They were both excited to start a new life in Chicago and build their American Dream,” says Norma Sandoval, who organized an online fundraiser on GoFundMe to help cover Ortega’s funeral expenses. “I was honored to have met Melissa and will always remember her beautiful smile.”

The fundraiser has raised over $48,000 as of Monday afternoon.

According to a police report, shootings in Chicago increased by 11% between 2020 and 2021, and 63% between 2019 and 2020 – the year the pandemic began.

Police are asking that anyone with leads contact them via a tip line. A reward of $10,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest, and up to $15,000 for a conviction.

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