Ill. Girl, 8, Who Recently Moved from Mexico to 'Build American Dream' Is Killed Running from Gunfire with Mom

Melissa Ortega was walking with her mother in Chicago’s Little Village Saturday afternoon when she was fatally shot

melissa ortega
Melissa Ortega. Photo: gofundme

An 8-year-old girl died Saturday after she was shot attempting to escape gunfire with her mom.

Melissa Ortega, a third-grader at Zapata Academy, was walking with her mother in Chicago's Little Village Saturday afternoon when a gunman opened fire on a suspected gang member, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

According to a police report obtained by the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, Melissa and her mother began running toward a bank when Melissa was shot in the head.

She was taken to Stroger Hospital, where she died.

The intended target was struck twice in the back and taken to the hospital in critical condition, the Sun-Times reports.

More than 13 9mm shell casings, one fired bullet and two bullet fragments, were discovered at the scene, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing the police report.

According to a GoFundMe page, Melissa and her mother — both from Mexico — arrived in Chicago in August.

"They were both excited to start a new life in Chicago and build their American Dream," the post reads.

"Melissa hoped for a better life here: she wanted to learn English, she wanted to experience Chicago snow, she wanted to get a Build-A-Bear, she wanted to make TikTok dances with her friends," the family said in a statement released Monday, ABC 7 reported. "At age 8, she was a girl full of hope and had her whole life ahead of her. She sought to achieve the American Dream but was instead given American Violence."

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Chicago Police Supt. David Brown called the fatal shooting an "unthinkable tragedy."

"The tragic and senseless murder of 8-year-old Melissa has shaken our city," Brown wrote on Twitter. "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. CPD will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice."

At a press conference Monday, Brown said law enforcement has "turned up the heat on gangs in the city and we will continue to do that," he said. "I think it's quite appropriate that we raise the level of resources, our sense of urgency to send an even stronger message to gangs, particularly in the Little Village neighborhood."

"Over the weekend, Melissa had her entire family stripped away in an instant," he said. "But the fact is we have too many hard days just like this in the city of Chicago."

A police spokesperson tells PEOPLE Tuesday that detectives are still investigating. "There are no updates at this time."

If anyone has information about Melissa's murder, they are asked to call the Chicago police department's anonymous tip line at 833-408-0069.

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