Mother of 8-Year-Old Fatally Shot Speaks Out as Suspects Are Charged: 'I Lost My Greatest Treasure'

An unidentified teenager and 27-year-old Xavier Guzman have been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to Melissa Ortega's death

melissa ortega
Melissa Ortega. Photo: gofundme

The mother of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega is speaking out as two people have been charged with the murder of her daughter.

Melissa, a third-grader at Zapata Academy, was shot in the head while walking with her mother in Chicago's Little Village Saturday afternoon after a gunman opened fire on a suspected gang member, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported. She was taken to Stroger Hospital, where she died.

"God gained an angel but I will always remember her infectious smile,'' Melissa's mother said in a statement read by a family representative at a news conference on Wednesday, adding: "Words cannot describe the pain I am feeling. On January 22 I lost my greatest treasure in life. I lost my princess. She was the reason why I got up every morning. Everything I did, I did for her."

During the conference, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown announced that two people had been arrested and charged for allegedly killing the young girl.

A 16-year-old, who was not identified, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and two counts of discharging a firearm. The teen is believed to be the shooter, Brown said. Though the teenager has not been identified, authorities said he will be tried as an adult.

Another man, identified as 27-year-old Xavier Guzman, was allegedly driving the vehicle. He has also been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, according to Brown.

"To the aggressor. I forgive you. You were a victim too. As a 16-year-old the community failed you, just like it failed my precious baby," Melissa's mother said in her statement.

According to a GoFundMe page, Melissa and her mother — both from Mexico — arrived in Chicago in August. In Wednesday's statement, her mother said that the family had been "filled with dreams" about their move to the United States.

"We imagined a better life here. We came in search of the American Dream we so famously hear of but instead I get to live a nightmare for the rest of my life," she said.

She also asked the community to use Melissa's death as a catalyst for addressing the city's gun violence.

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"I ask the community to help me preserve her memory. Don't let her die in vain," her mother said. "How is it possible that a little girl dies in broad daylight? How is it possible that we can send men to Mars but we can't fix the gun violence in our city?"

While announcing the charges, Brown said the city has been "shaken" by the situation, adding that "no one can make sense of this tragedy."

"Melissa was a precious little girl and it is unacceptable that she is the latest Chicagoan to fall victim to senseless gang violence," Brown said. "As a city, we mourn her loss because no child should know violence."

It was not immediately clear if Guzman has engaged legal representation who can speak on his behalf.

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