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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Man Who Killed 3 Near Portage Park Bar ‘Brutally’ Shot Everyone Who Called Out His Name, Prosecutors Say

Convicted felon Samuel Parsons-Salas was ordered held without bail Wednesday. He’s served multiple prison sentences since 2007.

Ricky Vera, Mario Pozuelos and Mercedes Tavares were killed Dec. 11, 2022 during a shooting outside a Portage Park bar.
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CHICAGO — A Portage Park man charged with killing three people near a nightclub over the weekend shot the victims multiple times in a “cold execution” style, critically wounding one woman as she tended to her dying father, prosecutors said.

Samuel Parsons-Salas, 32, was charged Tuesday with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of kidnapping. Police say he was the gunman who shot a 25-year-old woman celebrating her birthday, and fatally shot her 50-year-old father and two of her friends following an argument that started inside Vera Lounge, 3235 N. Central Ave., early Sunday morning.

Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Parsons-Salas held without bail Wednesday and said he poses a serious threat to the community.

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers shared graphic details of the shooting that was captured on surveillance video.

“On video, he is seen brutally, coldly executing three people and an [attempted] execution of a fourth,” McCord Rodgers said. “All of the individuals he shot were either on the ground or not paying attention.”

Ricky Vera, 50, was shot in his head and body, and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Family friend Mario Pozuelos, 26; and Mercedes Tavares, 24, Vera’s niece, were both shot multiple times and died after being taken to area hospitals.

Mariah Vera, 25, was shot in her head and remains hospitalized.

The shooting stemmed from a fight that began inside the lounge where Mariah Vera was celebrating her birthday, McCord Rodgers said. Someone hit Mariah Vera during the argument, prosecutors said.

Credit: GoFundMe
Ricky Vera and his daughter, Mariah, seen at work. Ricky Vera was an independent contractor and fixed roofs, according to social media.

Parsons-Salas was then kicked out of the party, authorities said. Family members previously said they did not know Parsons-Salas and did not invite him to the party, but prosecutors said other attendees knew him and his girlfriend.

Police Supt. David Brown previously said Parsons-Salas retrieved a gun from a car after he was kicked out.

Ricky Vera, Parsons-Salas and a group of people went outside and argued, prosecutors said. Ricky Vera approached Parsons-Salas in the middle of School Street and wanted to know who hit his daughter, McCord Rodgers said.

Parsons-Salas’s 26-year-old girlfriend, who had been dating him for only two weeks, tried to defuse the argument and stood in between the two men, prosecutors said. Parsons-Salas then shot Ricky Vera three times, striking him in the head and left chest, prosecutors said.

The girlfriend then ran into the driver’s side of a nearby car while Parsons-Salas fired his gun six times toward Pozuelos, who was standing close by. He was hit in the throat and head, and fell to the curb, prosecutors said.

“At this point, [Mariah Vera] was kneeling over her father who was lying shot in the middle of School Street,” McCord Rodgers said. “The defendant casually approached and shot her in the head at close range as she was caring for her wounded father.”

Parsons-Salas then shot Pozuelos, who was “lying shot and dying near the curb,” again in the head, prosecutors said.

As he ran to the car with his girlfriend inside, Parsons-Salas saw Tavares hiding behind a white van close by and shot her at close range, McCord Rodgers said.

“Then as [Tavares] lay shot on the sidewalk, the defendant stands over and shoots her again at close range,” McCord Rodgers said.

Detectives recovered 10 shell cases from the shooting, officials said.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
Brightly colored balloons and candles sit at the corner of North Central and West School streets, where three were killed Dec. 11, 2022 after a fight in Vera Lounge, 3235 N. Central Ave.

Parsons-Salas then fled in the dark-colored SUV, demanding his girlfriend drive to his home nearby. He pointed his gun at her, took her coat and destroyed her cell phone, McCord Rodgers said. The girlfriend tried to escape by crashing the car, but it didn’t work, McCord Rodgers said.

He forced her to go with him to a second-floor apartment on the 5200 block of West Montrose Avenue, held her hostage and threatened to shoot her if she screamed or asked for help, prosecutors said.

He was arrested at the apartment on Monday after a brief foot chase, prosecutors said.

Credit: GoFundMe
Mercedes Tavares, 24, was the niece of one of the men who died at the Portage Park shooting on Dec. 11, 2022.

“The defendant made third-party admissions apologizing for killing [Tavares] and admitting that he shot everyone who called out his name,” McCord Rodgers said.

Parsons-Salas, who is from Chicago, was on supervised release at the time of the shooting and has a violent criminal history.

He’s served multiple prison sentences since 2007 for an armed home invasion, two robberies and aggravated battery to a police officer.

He had been in prison until recently for a 2009 armed home invasion in Albany Park in which two people were killed, arrest records show. He was originally charged with murder but convicted on home invasion charges while his accomplice was convicted of the killings.

He was charged in the case in 2014 and placed on supervised release in September, records show. He was also on supervised release in connection to the aggravated battery case, prosecutors said.

Based on the evidence presented to the court, Parsons-Salas had an “intent to kill these individuals, to put it mildly,” Ortiz said.

He is due back in court Jan. 2

‘They Never Deserved This’

Mariah Vera is still in critical condition and in the hospital on a feeding tube, officials said. The bullet shattered parts of her skull and there are bone fragments in her brain, McCord Rodgers said.

Families launched GoFundMe campaigns to help raise money for their loved ones’ funerals.

Tavares, of south suburban Chicago Heights, was a mom to three small children: a 3-and-a-half-year-old and 9-month-old twins, her family said.

“She absolutely adored our babies and made our family the center of her life,” wrote Miguel Gordillo, the father of Tavares’ kids. “She was especially excited to celebrate the holidays and was looking forward to gathering with our extended families and creating beautiful memories with our babies.” People can donate online.

Ricardo Pozuelos, Mario Pozuelos’ brother, also launched a GoFundMe and is asking the community to help the family bury the 26-year-old and honor his life.

“Our hearts are with the other victims and families,” Ricardo Pozuelos wrote. “They never deserved this our Mario had his whole life ahead” of him.

A friend of the Vera family also launched a GoFundMe to help with the family’s immediate needs and for Mariah Vera’s medical expenses. Over $15,000 has been raised for the family so far, with the goal of collecting $40,000.

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