15-year-old active church member Julio Cesar Garcia-Lara fatally shot while riding in back of SUV in West Lawn

Fifteen-year-old Julio Cesar Garcia-Lara was shot to death late Monday night while riding in the back of an SUV in the West Lawn neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

About 10:30 p.m., a white Dodge Charger started trailing a red Chevrolet Trailblazer in the 5900 block of South Pulaski, according to Chicago Police.

Someone in the Charger fired shots, and Garcia-Lara, who was sitting in the back of the SUV, was struck in the back and head, authorities said.

He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:11 p.m., police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

He lived in the West Elsdon neighborhood on the Southwest Side and was a student and church member at St. Gall’s School and Parish in Gage Park.

Brother Alan Parham of St. Gall’s posted on Facebook: “I knew Cesar as a young man who was always smiling and always said hello. … a cheerful young man at St. Gall’s, active in the youth group (Warriors of Peace) and sometimes helper in the catechetical program.”

He said he tried to comfort the boy’s family after the shooting.

I just came from visiting the family. I had few words, just tears and prayers. I was oddly comforted by the friends of the family praying the rosary in the basement. There was a small altar with pictures of Cesar, as we called him at St. Gall’s.

One was of the proud day when he was confirmed a little over a year ago, and the picture was of Cesar beside Cardinal Cupich. I felt so sad when I was leaving the house and promised to return…”

A Candle Lighting Ceremony in Cesar’s honor will be conducted at 6 p.m. Friday in the basement of the church at 55th and Kedzie.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire and Homicide Watch Chicago

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