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Female high school wrestling champ is shot dead in her parked car outside her home

A female high school wrestling champion was shot dead while sitting in her parked car outside her Chicago home on Saturday evening

Melissa ‘Azul’ de la Garza, 18, was coming back from a day of shopping for Halloween costumes and had just finished a Facetime call with her sister when an unidentified man approached her car and shot her multiple times in the torso before fleeing, according to the Chicago Police Department.

She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead, police confirmed. 

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department told DailyMail.com that the motive for the shooting is unclear and investigators are still searching for the suspect. 

The shooting comes amid a huge surge in violent crimes and shootings in Chicago. The 18-year old athlete was one of nine people shot dead in the city over the weekend.

Melissa ‘Azul’ de la Garza, 18, was shot dead while sitting in her parked car outside her home in Chicago’s Southwest Side on Saturday evening

Melissa ‘Azul’ de la Garza, 18, was shot dead while sitting in her parked car outside her home in Chicago’s Southwest Side on Saturday evening

She had just been talking with her sister on FaceTime when an unidentified gunman approached her car and open fire, striking her torso multiple times

‘She just seemed so happy in that FaceTime call,’ de la Garza’s older sister Isabel said at a press conference after the shooting. ‘I can’t fathom this, I can’t understand it. And it’s so heart-breaking for me and my whole family.’ 

De la Garza also went by the name Azul and was referred to by both she/her and they/them pronouns. 

De la Garza’s father Jose rushed outside after hearing the gunshots and police showed up to the scene minutes later. ‘He saw my sister sitting in the car. He was screaming her name, and she wasn’t responding,’ Isabel told local news station WLS. ‘My dad opened the door and just held her.’

Jose described his daughter as a ‘warrior princess.’ She was the only girl on the wrestling team at Solorio Academy High School and the second in the school’s history, according to a newsletter from the school. She was also an artist and planned to take a year off to work and save money before attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago on a scholarship.

‘It’s hard to put in words the loss we are feeling,’ Jose said, through tears, at Sunday’s press conference. ‘For someone to take away my 18-year-old warrior princess. She had a scholarship, and she was a wrestler at Solorio, took second place in state, just doing everything the best way we’ve taught her. For someone to come and take that away for no reason—it doesn’t make any sense.’

De la Garza's father Jose (center) rushed outside after hearing the gunshots and police showed up to the scene minutes later. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead, police confirmed

De la Garza’s father Jose (center) rushed outside after hearing the gunshots and police showed up to the scene minutes later. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead, police confirmed

'It is a nightmare,' her grandmother Clara de la Garza (left) said. 'Who is going to fill this hole? It's unbelievable how this city is being consumed by violence'

‘It is a nightmare,’ her grandmother Clara de la Garza (left) said. ‘Who is going to fill this hole? It’s unbelievable how this city is being consumed by violence’

Chicago police said they are looking for ‘an unidentified male offender who fled the scene on foot’ after shooting dead Melissa de la Garza. Her grandmother Clara de la Garza told WLS she had been shot seven times, and that three people were seen running in the opposite direction after the shooting.

‘It is a nightmare,’ Clara said, in Spanish, to WLS. ‘Who is going to fill this hole? It’s unbelievable how this city is being consumed by violence.’

De la Garza’s family set up a GoFundMe page in her memory that has garnered $6,523 of its $10,000 goal in the four hours since it was created on Monday.

‘She had so much ambition… She’s so artistic,’ Isabel told the news outlet. ‘I’ll remember her as my best friend, my rock, the person I always went to. She always gave me advice.’

Alma de la Garza-Wozniak, the victim’s aunt, made a plea for change in crime-ridden Chicago. ‘We need to elect the right officials that will go ahead keep criminals in the prisons so they don’t come back out,’ she told Fox 32.

De la Garza was the only girl on the wrestling team at Solorio Academy High School and the second in the school's history, according to a newsletter from the school

De la Garza was the only girl on the wrestling team at Solorio Academy High School and the second in the school’s history, according to a newsletter from the school

She was also an artist and planned to take a year off to work and save money before attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago on a scholarship

She was also an artist and planned to take a year off to work and save money before attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago on a scholarship

Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 10 percent in the week leading up to September 19, with 2,596 incidents this year as compared to the 2,351 in the same period last year

Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 10 percent in the week leading up to September 19, with 2,596 incidents this year as compared to the 2,351 in the same period last year

According to the CBS Chicago, at least nine people were killed and 59 people were wounded in citywide shootings over the weekend, including a police officer and a 15-year old boy. 

Police were responding to gunfire that hospitalized the 15-year old boy and killed an 18-year old man in Chicago’s South Side on Friday night when a shooter opened fire and struck a female officer in the leg, police said. 

Officers arrested Aaron Jenkins, 26, in connection with the shooting and he faces two counts of attempted murder in the first degree and felony aggravated battery of a peace officer/discharge of a firearm.

After the shooting, the officer drove herself to University of Chicago Medical Center and has since been treated and released. 

Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 10 percent in the week leading up to September 19, with 2,596 incidents this year as compared to the 2,351 in the same period last year.

However, overall crime has dipped five percent in the same period with 3,1522 crimes reported this year compared to 3,3211 crimes reported last year. Robbery cases are also down, by seven percent, but criminal sexual assault, theft and murders are all up by 28 percent, 11 percent and four percent, respectively.  


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