CHICAGO (CBS) – Three people are dead and another is in critical condition following a mass shooting at a birthday party on the city’s Northwest Side early Sunday morning.
The shooting happened at the Vera Lounge, located in the 5500 block of West School Street around 2:26 a.m.
Family and friends of 25-year-old Mariah Vera gathered for her birthday celebration inside the lounge. Police said an argument inside the bar turned into a fight that spilled outside in the street – that’s when a man fired shots and fled in a dark-colored SUV.
The victims have since been identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Ricky Vera, 50, whose brother owns the bar, was shot in the head and chest and was pronounced dead on the scene.
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His daughter, Maria Vera, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the head, and was listed in critical condition.
Two of Maria’s friends – Mario Pozuelos, 26, of Franklin Park, and Mercedes Tavares, 24, of Chicago Heights – were taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to the body. Both were pronounced dead.
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Oscar Ortiz, a friend of Ricky Vera, said they were celebrating Maria’s birthday Saturday night when the fight broke out.
“This man was arguing with his daughter, and he came out and says, ‘Hey, that’s my daughter,’ and he just turned to him, and he walked to the car, came back, and shot him point blank,” Ortiz said.
Loved ones described Maria as loving and generous, and Ricky as a family man.
“Excellent husband, excellent grandfather, excellent father, excellent brother; he opened his doors to everybody,” Ortiz said.
Video posted on social media shows big crowds inside the lounge about an hour before the violence erupted outside.
In the daylight on Sunday, violence interrupters with Rincon Family Services were on the street offering support to the Portage Park community, in hopes of preventing this from happening again.
“This is not going to happen in my community. I live here. I’ve been here for 20-something years. It is not going to happen,” said Rosario Villalobos, with Rincon Family Services.
Until police find who is responsible, Ortiz is asking this community to live more like his friend, Ricky.
“Just be nice to people. Be happy to people. Joke with people. Smile with people. Trust people,” he said.
It’s not clear what started the fight that led to the shooting.
No one was in custody Sunday evening.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact CPDTip.com.