HERMOSA — A 27-year-old man is facing murder charges for ordering a shooting that killed two-year-old Julien Gonzalez, the youngest shooting victim in Chicago this year, police said.
Alexander Varela, 27, of the 2200 block of North Kilbourn Avenue, has been charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery in the case, according to police. Varela’s bond court hearing is set for noon Monday.
Julien was with his parents at a family party in the 2200 block of North Kilbourn Avenue, the same block where Varela lives, when he was shot and killed just after 10 p.m. Oct. 6, police said.
“There was a birthday party, people were celebrating when this occurred,” Chicago police deputy chief of detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a Monday morning press conference at CPD headquarters.
Julien was in the alley with an 18-year-old man when a fight broke out between two women and shots rang out, according to authorities.
According to Deenihan, Varela wasn’t at the party but rather “inserted himself” into the fight. Deenihan described the 27-year-old as a gang member who “thinks he owns the block.”
“‘I don’t want you arguing on the block. This is my territory,'” And then what happens? This escalates. The males from the party come out. … It’s verbal and turns physical. It goes in the alley and [Varela] says, ‘Take the gun out and start shooting into this crowd,’ as a two-year-old is walking through the alley trying to follow his father,” Deenihan said. “He ordered his gang member friend to start shooting at people.”
Police arrested Varela just after 9:15 p.m. Oct. 19 in the 2300 block of West Chicago Avenue.
Deenihan said community members and people who were at the party helped identify Varela as the person who ordered the shooting.
“We had several witnesses come forward,” he said.
The fatal shooting rocked the usually quiet neighborhood of Hermosa. More than 125 concerned neighbors and residents from across the city showed up for a police roll call held near where Julien was killed.
“The community was outraged and, as a result, they said: What do we have to do bring this to justice?” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said at the press conference.
Deenihan also credited witnesses and community members for advancing the investigation.
The deputy chief emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and “additional suspects are being sought.”