BACK OF THE YARDS — Jesus Rega, a 21-year-old man with disabilities, was waiting at a school bus stop with family when he was shot three times in a Wednesday attack that police suspect was a mistaken hit by local gang members.
Now Rega’s family is asking for support to cover his medical costs — and to move them out of an “unsafe area.”
Rega has autism and is non-verbal. His family fears he may go blind from his injuries, which would be devastating as he communicates through a vision board.
A GoFundMe for Rega hopes to raise $50,000 as he battles in neurological intensive care for the coming weeks and braces for surgery on his head. So far the fundraiser has raised more than $4,000.
At 6:38 a.m. Wednesday, a man — first identified as Rega by ABC7 Chicago — was at a bus stop in the 4700 block of South Wolcott Avenue with his dad and a 15-year-old sibling when a trio of men fired shots, Cmdr. Don Jerome said at a news conference last week.
Police found Rega lying on the ground, unresponsive, police said. He had been hit three times, once in his head.
Rega was rushed to Stroger Hospital in critical condition, Jerome said.
Rega’s father Philip Rega Jr. told ABC7 he pulled his 15-year-old, who also has disabilities, to the ground, but he couldn’t get to his older son in time.
“I was trying to tell him to get down, but he didn’t understand at the time,” Rega Jr. said, according to ABC7.
Nearly 40 shots rang out, police said. The gunmen ran off.
Rega “loved being with his family, schoolmates, and teachers. He is such a happy loving person,” his GoFundMe said. He’s an avid YouTube watcher who likes Shrek, wrestling and SpongeBob.
“Jesus is expected to graduate at the end of this school year,” his GoFundMe read. “We’re hoping he can cross the stage with his friends.”
Jerome said the area has long needed “increased focus” from police because of a “historic conflict” between rival gangs.
A source told the Sun-Times that the Latin Saints and Two-Six gangs are battling over terriority in the area, and that Rega’s shooting may be a case of “mistaken identity.”
Jerome also suspects mistaken identity and said the Rega family has no gang affiliation.
The shooters were described as three males in their teens to early 20s, and they were wearing dark-colored clothing, Jerome said. An investigation is ongoing.
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