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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Man Charged In Killing Of Enrique Sanchez, Longtime Resident Of Avondale Homeless Encampment

Police said Jonathan Gonzalez, of the 1600 block of North Latrobe Avenue, shot and killed Sanchez Dec. 5.

Enrique Sanchez lived underneath the Belmont viaduct for a decade.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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AVONDALE — A 22-year-old man has been charged with murder after police said he fatally shot Enrique Sanchez, a longtime resident of the Belmont Avenue homeless encampment, last month.

Jonathan Gonzalez, 22, of the 1600 block of North Latrobe Avenue, has been charged with one felony count of first-degree murder, according to a police news release. Police arrested Gonzalez Wednesday morning.

Police said Gonzalez shot and killed 53-year-old Sanchez just before 1:15 p.m. Dec. 5 in the 3100 block of North Sawyer Avenue.

Prosecutors said the day of the deadly shooting Gonzalez, a gang member, and his friend were driving around for hours under the influence of alcohol and weed and Gonzalez kept calling attention to potential rivals, the Sun-Times reported.

Gonzalez identified Sanchez’s car — a Toyota Corolla with tinted windows — as “the opps” and opened fire from the passenger seat, shooting Sanchez 13 times, according to the Sun-Times.

Sanchez crashed into a nearby building before he was sent to the hospital and pronounced dead.

Sanchez had found an apartment just weeks before he was killed. Prior to that, he had been living in the Belmont Avenue homeless encampment for about a decade, his longtime friend Carlos Rivera said.

Rivera, who lives in the encampment, said he doesn’t believe Sanchez was the intended target.

Rivera and Sanchez had been friends since the early ’90s. Over the years, the two would drink together and Rivera would help Sanchez fix up his car. When Rivera fell on hard times, Sanchez invited him to move into the encampment where he lived, at Belmont Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway.

“Nobody deserves to die, and especially in a violent death like that. My heart dropped,” Rivera previously said. “He was a compassionate, good-hearted person, and he would give you his last dollar if you needed it.”

RELATED: Longtime Resident Of Avondale Encampment Shot And Killed: ‘A Compassionate, Good-Hearted Person’

Many in the Avondale community are in mourning Sanchez’s death.

Some gathered Downtown last month to pay their respects to Sanchez and other people who lost their lives while experiencing homelessness last year.

“He took care of everyone and some of his friends who have survived him have known him for years,” said Adam Gottlieb with the Chicago Union for the Homeless.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who represents the area where Sanchez was killed, told Block Club the shooting had “nothing to do with” the encampment. Police didn’t provide information about the relationship between Sanchez and Gonzalez, the alleged killer.

Sanchez’s murder is the latest tragedy to hit the Avondale homeless encampment, which was targeted twice this year in arson fires, causing residents to lose clothing, mattresses and other valuables.

Prosecutors said police used surveillance video to arrest the shooter, who went back to the scene to retrieve his hat, the Sun-Times reported.

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