By RUMMANA HUSSAIN
A Northwest Side man was charged with gunning down 21-year-old Renee Soto and seriously injuring three of the dead man’s cousins as they sat on the steps enjoying the summer evening in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood last June.
Soto died on the scene after Miguel Vazquez shot him in the back and arm as Soto’s cousin’s young children—ages 3, 8 and 9—played in the front yard in the 2900 block of North Kilpatrick, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Bridget O’Brien said in court.
The 31-year-old father of those children was shot when he tried to push his family members “who were frozen with fear by Vazquez’s actions” inside the home, O’Brien said.
He remains paralyzed from the waist down.
That man’s 17-year-old sister is now blind in the left eye as the result of Vazquez’s June 21 shooting spree, O’Brien said.
The teenager said she saw Vazquez but thought he was just running across the street until she saw him raise his gun toward her, O’Brien said.
That was the last thing she saw before she was shot in the face and arm.
The wounded siblings’ 28-year-old brother was leaning against the family home laughing and talking when he noticed Vazquez standing alone in a neighbor’s yard opening fire on his family, O’Brien said.
He tried to run through a gangway but was struck in the left side and arm.
Vazquez, 20, is a purported member of a gang, O’Brien said.
Neither Soto nor his three injured family members have gang ties, according to O’Brien, who offered no motive for the shootings.
Soto and his relatives would often sit outside the porch in the summer after dinner, O’Brien said.
At the time of the shooting, neighbor Nelson Mojica heard six to 10 shots.
“Police pulled a lot of children out of there, some of them were crying and carrying bags of their belongings,” Mojica said.
“It sounded like fireworks,” said Mojica’s wife, Danielle.
Vasquez, of the 2400 block of Neva Avenue, was ordered held without bond Wednesday for murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm charges.
He is a graduate of Steinmetz College Prep and currently works as a maintenance man at a temp agency, his attorney said.