RAVENSWOOD MANOR — A married father of five remains hospitalized after family members say he was mistaken for someone else when he was shot in Ravenswood Manor on Friday.
Hector Alvarez Jr., 38, of Albany Park, works as an engineer in Edgewater and has been a member of Local 1 SEIU for the past 10 years.
He was with coworkers at Leader Bar in Albany Park on Friday night before leaving to drop a coworker off on Montrose Avenue and head home, family and friends said.
Alvarez drives a black Jeep and as he got back on the road, he noticed a car following him. Concerned, he decided to call his brother.
“His brother was still on the phone when he heard the gunshots that shot out Hector’s back windows,” said Jessica Gutierrez, Alvarez’s friend.
Alvarez then tried to drive away from the gunman but ended up in the 2700 block of West Agatite Avenue, a dead end street next to the North Branch of the Chicago River, according to his family.
The gunman then got out of his car and began shooting at Alvarez before fleeing, friends and family said.
Police said they found Alvarez in the driver’s seat of the Jeep with multiple gunshot wounds around 10:36 p.m. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where doctors are still treating him, relatives said.
Alvarez’s family believes he was mistaken for someone else — especially given the ongoing gang conflict in Albany Park and Ravenswood Manor that has been blamed for at least eight shootings and two homicides in recent weeks.
“… we were listening to the 911 calls and scanner and apparently there was a different shooting earlier and I guess some gang member decided to put a target on the black Jeep involved in that,” Gutierrez said. “Unfortunately, Hector drives a black Jeep, too.”
Police did not comment on whether the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. Detectives are still investigating.
The spate of violence throughout the Albany Park (17th) Police District on the Northwest Side stems from as many as 10 escalating gang-related conflicts, according to Cmdr. Ronald A. Pontecore Jr.
Shootings have more than doubled this year in Albany Park and Ravenswood Manor, police data show, prompting neighbors to demand more police protection throughout the district.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed last Wednesday to send violence interrupters and more police resources to the area to help curb the gun violence, according to Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33rd).
Alvarez will need at least three surgeries to remove the bullets that struck his arm, throat and stomach, according to his wife, Sharon.
Alvarez’s family is raising money on GoFundMe to cover some of his medical expenses. It raised just over $8,000 as of Monday night.
“He’s one of my high school friends who I’ve kept in touch with and the godfather of one of my best friend’s children,” said State Rep. Delia Ramirez.
Ramirez attended Prosser Career Academy with Alvarez. She said he was so happy about being promoted to chief engineer at his job last year because it meant he could provide more opportunities to his five children — ages 17, 19, 23, 26 and 28 — and three grandchildren — ages 1, 5 and 7.
“He’s family-oriented and very responsible. He just carries himself on a different kind of level and always looks out for people,” said friend Adolfo Romanis.
He met Alvarez as a freshman at Prosser and said it’s horrifying to know his friend was put into the hospital for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It’s a freak thing. He does everything by the book and still this happened to him. All because of the vehicle he was driving and how he looks,” Romanis said. “We have another friend who also drives a black Jeep. He’s keeping it in the garage until further notice because of this.”
Alvarez is his family’s sole provider and now the family has to worry about paying rent and buying groceries in addition to the medical bills for his surgeries.
“Hector worked hard and never succumbed to the life of being out on the streets,” said David Hernandez, another of Alvarez’s friends.
“What hits home the most is that it could have been me that was shot. I walk around with a fade and tattoos and I’m not involved in any of that. And now I feel like I can’t walk around in peace.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.