CHICAGO - A man and a 16-year-old boy have been charged with murder in connection with the fatal shooting of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega, who was shot in the head as she walked through Chicago's Little Village neighborhood with her mother this past weekend, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown announced.
"We have found the offenders responsible for taking Melissa's life and they have been charged,'' Brown said during an afternoon news conference Wednesday afternoon at police headquarters.
"Our city has been shaken, and no one can make sense of this tragedy," Brown said.
The boy, who Brown did not identify, was charged with murder, attempted murder and two counts of discharging a firearm, said Brown. He was believed to be the shooter.
The older suspect, Xavier Guzman, who was driving the vehicle, was also charged with murder and attempted murder.
In a rare appearance at police headquarters, Cook County state's Attorney Kim Foxx called the killing "horrific" and called her life an American dream lost. and said the 16-year-old was charged as an adult. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also was expected to speak.
"As Melissa's family continues to grieve and process her loss, they are asking news media to give them some privacy," read a statement posted to Facebook on behalf of her relatives.
"We are continuing to walk with the family through this very hard process. At this moment, the criminal investigation is still ongoing," the statement said.
A 29-year-old man who authorities said was the intended target of the shooting - which happened in the 3900 block of West 26th Street at 2:45 p.m. Saturday - also was wounded. He had not been identified but officials said he was in fair condition after the shooting.
Melissa was a third grader at Emiliano Zapata Academy. She and her family had just moved to the Little Village neighborhood last August from her hometown of Los Sauces, in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, where she is expected to be buried, according to information from a verified GoFundMe account.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the online fundraiser had amassed donations totaling more than $70,000 from some 1,700 contributors hoping to help the family transport Melissa back to her native Mexico for burial.
In a statement at the time, the Chicago Teachers Union lamented the shooting of another innocent child and extended its condolences to the Ortega family and all those who knew Melissa from Zapata Academy, saying it "sends its love to Melissa's family and the Zapata Academy community, and wish them peace and healing from this heartbreaking tragedy."
The union also decried the ongoing violence in the city.
"Our union mourns the loss of another student from one of our school communities. This suffering is becoming all too familiar for many of Chicago's children and families, who our educators nurture and support every day," said the statement from CTU spokesman Ronnie Reese.
Lightfoot and Brown each posted about the shooting on social media during the weekend, calling on anyone with information to come forward.
"The Chicago Police Department stands with the Little Village community in the wake of this unthinkable tragedy and won't stop working until we find justice for this precious child and her family," Brown said.
(Chicago Tribune's Paige Fry and Gregory Pratt contributed to this report.)