The fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy slain while delivering newspapers with his stepfather to earn money to buy presents may have been the result of mistaken identity and rooted in an ongoing gang war that didn't involve him, Chicago police said Monday during a news conference in a city where gun violence this year has left nearly 600 people dead.
According to police, the shooting took place just before 7 a.m. in the 5100 block of West 47th Street in the city’s LeClaire Courts neighborhood, authorities said.
Brian Jasso was sitting in the backseat of a Honda CR-V driven by his stepfather when it was rear-ended by a white vehicle, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner.
Family members said he was riding with his mother's boyfriend, Erik Campeano, a longtime newspaper delivery driver who was accompanying the teen along his route. Campeano said he was driving with Jasso near West 47th and Leamington when a white car flashed its high beams at their SUV.
The vehicle then began chasing the pair and when Campeano stopped, someone from inside the white car opened fire, he said.
Campeano said he pulled into a nearby BP gas station and told Jasso to run, but the teen wasn't responding. Jasso suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.
"He was a 15-year-old boy, no run-ins with police, he's never been arrested," Anthony Riccio, chief of the bureau of organized crime, said of Jasso. "He's a good kid, he's out with his stepfather delivering papers to buy Christmas presents or birthday presents."
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives were interviewing witnesses and searching for video that may have captured the shooting or the events that led to it.
Guglielmi also said that detectives were trying to determine if there was some kind of encounter between the stepfather's vehicle and the gunman's vehicle earlier that morning that prompted the shooting.
"We are looking at whether one of them cut the other off in traffic, that kind of thing," he said, adding that no such connection had been made as of Monday morning.
No arrests have been made and police are looking to identify the suspects. A search for the gunman remained ongoing Monday.
"I want to see the killer's face," the grieving mother said.
Police said a motive was not clear, but family members said Jasso "did not have any enemies."
Jasso's stepfather is an independent contractor who delivers papers for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers. Tribune publisher and editor Bruce Dold said the newspaper was "saddened and stunned by this news."