Ulises Almaraz / Photo from Chicago Police
BY SUN-TIMES STAFF
Avina, a father of three who married into the family that owns the famed Nuevo Leon restaurant on 18th Street, was sitting at the bar at Simone’s, a popular spot in the 900 block of West 18th Street, when Almaraz walked up behind him and slit his throat, a relative said authorities said.
Avina, who lived blocks way, was dead at the scene.
Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Rottner said Saturday night the attack “was unprovoked” and that Avina was “an innocent victim.”
Almaraz, 29, of Berwyn, was taken into custody after the stabbing and was charged with first-degree murder, police said. He is scheduled to appear in court Sunday for a bond hearing.
The violent death shocked the tight-knit community of Pilsen, where even the local mailman knew what had happened to a beloved community member. A framer by trade, the 43-year-old’s craftsmanship can be found throughout the National Museum of Mexican Art in the Near West Side neighborhood.
“Rudy was known because he had this great personality and a very kind and gentle soul,” said longtime friend Diana Solis, 59. “Rudy is going to leave a huge void in this community.”
“He was not somebody who wanted to get in trouble,” said longtime friend Cesario Moreno, the chief curator at the Mexican art museum. “He was a peace-loving father.”
Avina owned a framing business, Creativo Framing, in River North and worked with artists all around the city, Moreno said.
Avina had been friends with James Foley, the American journalist who was captured and killed by the Islamic State, Avina’s friends said. He helped organize a Pilsen mural for his slain friend, Solis said.
Avina was a vegetarian, loved to camp and was a musician who played the doumbek drum, friends said.
He was also the father of three teenagers — Mia, Carlos and Sofia, said Daniel Gutierrez Jr., whose family owns Nuevo Leon. Avina had been married to Gutierrez’s sister, but they had divorced.
Gutierrez Jr. said authorities told him surveillance video of the bar shows Avina having a beer or two at the bar and a “guy seems to be standing behind him for quite some time … and so he decided to slice his throat while he was sitting at the bar.”
An owner of Simone’s, Desiree Grant, said her staff is cooperating with the police.