IRVING PARK — Parents of a Horner Park Little League are calling on its leaders to explain why a coach who was arrested on gun charges after a baseball game was brought on to coach their children this summer in the first place.
Anthony Borrero Santoyo, 33, of suburban Cicero was arrested at the park Aug. 19 for displaying a gun during an apparent parking dispute after a Horner Park North-West Little League game, police, neighbors and league members said.
Santoyo has a felony conviction for identity theft from 2018, according to court records. League parents told Block Club they’re concerned the baseball group’s leadership would let Santoyo coach their children despite his prior status.
“I don’t know why he was ever allowed to coach in the first place,” said a league member who asked not to be identified out of safety concerns. “My trust with the organization has been completely broken.”
Horner Park Little League players range in age from 4-13. Managers and coaches for the league must undergo a “mandatory background check” and training before they’re “allowed on the field and/or issued ID badges,” according to the Horner Park North-West league’s website.
League Board President Francisco Perez told Block Club Santoyo did undergo a background check and that the league decided to offer him a coaching role despite his prior conviction due to a chronic lack of volunteers.
“Unless the felony has something to do with children, something that would conflict with being on the field with kids, then you can be a felon and still be a coach,” Perez said. “If not, then you wouldn’t have a coach in the City of Chicago.”
League Board Treasurer Lola Post said this was Santoyo’s first year coaching in the Horner Park group. Santoyo did not respond to questions from Block Club.
Perez said the background check policy that allowed Santoyo to coach was created by the Little League International group his Horner Park league is affiliated with. A spokesman from Little League International was not immediately available for comment.
Perez’s explanation didn’t satisfy some parents, who said Santoyo showed poor sportsmanship and leadership as a coach and called for more transparency from the league and on the league’s website about the vetting process for coaches.
“I’m a believer in giving people second chances, depending on the nature of the crime,” said another league member who asked not to be identified. “But I do think the league’s leadership needs to be more transparent to keep the trust of the community.”
“I don’t even think my child recognized that he was the head coach of our team. He was not in charge. He did not get us organized and lead,” the parent said. “Everything my kid learned this summer was from the other dads that stepped up and gave good guidance and supported the team.”
Perez said parents should have notified him earlier in the season about their issues with Santoyo.
“We made sure that it was safe for them to play the next game [after Aug. 19]. We did everything within our power,” Perez said.
But that was beside the point, as league leadership knew about Santoyo’s background and could observe his behavior during games before his August arrest, one parent said.
“They league is a nonprofit that is supposed to support kids. But they put a convicted felon as a coach of a team. The league is complicit in all this,” the parent said.
Santoyo has been charged with felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in a vehicle and misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records.
He is under electronic monitoring and has been banned from Horner Park and the baseball league as a condition of his bail, according to court records.
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