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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Community Activist Shot Dead After Chasing Driver Who Hit Cyclist: ‘He Died As A Hero’

Alberto Bocanegra, 39, had been recording a group of cyclists when he witnessed a driver hit a cyclist and drive off. That's when he sprung into action.

Alberto Bocanegra was fatally shot in the 600 block of East 76th Street Tuesday.
Lee Edwards / Block Club Chicago / Facebook
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CHATHAM — A man shot and killed after chasing a hit-and-run driver early Tuesday was a well-known Brighton Park community activist and former aldermanic candidate.

Alberto Bocanegra, 39, was fatally shot Tuesday in the 600 block of East 76th Street, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. 

Bocanegra, who had previously run for 12th and 15th Ward alderman, was recording a group of bicyclists on Facebook Live prior to the 1:26 a.m. shooting. That’s around when police said a car hit a 30-year-old woman in the group then drove off. 

Bocanegra pursued the other car, caught up to the driver, and had a verbal confrontation on the 600 block of East 76th St., officials said. That’s when an additional vehicle pulled up and someone inside shot him twice in the neck. He was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition and later pronounced dead. 

The gunman was driving a blue SUV, police said. 

The bicyclist who was hit by the car was taken to Northwestern Hospital in good condition with an injured shoulder, police said.

Longtime friend and lawyer Frank Avila called Bocanegra’s death a “tragedy.” The family spokesman said he, along with with friends Raul Montes and Andrew Holmes, were offering a combined $2,500 for the capture of Bocanegra’s killer.

“He died as a hero. He died helping others. He died as a Good Samaritan. He helped others at all times, he did his good deeds,” Avila said.

Credit: Frank Avila
Alberto Bocanegra, 39, was fatally shot Tuesday.

Avila described Bocanegra as a “very generous, loyal…human being” who was a proud Mexican-American and Chicago resident.

“He was a big fan of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls,” Avila said. 

Aside from Bocanegra’s commitment to South Side communities, Avila said his 39-year-old friend was “a successful businessman, loyal father, a wonderful friend, great basketball player and chef.”

Avila recalled on multiple occasions Bocanegra intervening in conflicts much like the one that led to his death.

“He wanted to be Zapata. He wanted to be Robin Hood, Batman,” Avila said. “He got shot and killed trying to help someone else that’s just the way he was. He had a big heart, he was strong…He was… a beautiful person.”

Avila said he hopes that Bocanegra’s death is not just another tragic shooting in Chicago but “awakens people.” He hopes to have a scholarship set up in Bocanegra’s name to preserve his legacy, Avila said.

Friend Jorge Mujica said Bocanegra was president of the Green Party in Cook County.  

Mujica had watched a video posted by Bocanegra Monday evening on Facebook the night he was killed, and was “shocked” and “hurt” to hear the news about his death.

“He was very committed to local politics,” said Mujica, an organizer with Arise Chicago and former 25th Ward candidate. “He was an excellent person, who was really engaged with the community.”

The pair kept in touch while Bocanegra battled cancer, Mujica said, and they would talk about politics and ways to help the community. 

Englewood (6th) District Police Cmdr. William J. Bradley said  between ShotSpotter technology, which notified officers of the shooting within 30 seconds, and video that other riders had of the incident, they were confident the gunman will be apprehended.

“In this particular case I’m under the impression that we had a lot of private video people who might have captured the incident on their phones,” Bradley said. “I think we have some really good leads and detectives are following up on all of those leads.”