An Elgin man police say is a known gang member has been charged and ordered held without bail in the shooting death of 5-year-old Eric Galarza Jr.
Miguel Hernandez Jr. was charged Friday with first-degree murder after he allegedly shot Galarza Jr. on Oct. 7. Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said in a statement, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, that the investigation into the shooting was greatly helped by the northwest suburban village's community.
"The Elgin community provided multiple leads that helped lead to this arrest," Swoboda said. "Within one week, Elgin's gang unit has been able to arrest and charge the man responsible for this tragic incident."
Galarza Jr. was shot in the head while sitting in the back seat of his family's car as it backed out of the driveway of his family's Elgin home, located in the 900 block of Elma Avenue, at 7 p.m. that day. His mother, father, aunt and two siblings were also in the car at the time of the shooting, though no one was else was injured in the incident.
While the police investigation into the shooting is ongoing, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that revenge for a prior shooting may have been the motive for the murder. Police believe another person in the car was specifically targeted.
As the Daily Herald reports, Galarza's father, Eric, has a criminal history dating back over a decade, to 2000, when he was sentenced to nine years in jail after he plead guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm. He has done jail time on two other charges since then and is expected in court on Nov. 3 on a pending charge of aggravated battery with great bodily harm.
Hernandez is slated to appear in court on the charge of murdering Galarza Jr. in Rolling Meadows that same day.
Wednesday, over 200 mourners packed Elgin's St. Joseph Catholic Church for Galarza Jr.'s funeral. As TribLocal reports, Father Adalberto Sanchez told the standing-room only crowd at the memorial, "Sometimes we act without thinking and the consequences of our actions are this, the death of an innocent."
Elgin Police have asked anyone with additional information on the shooting to come forward via the department's anonymous tip line at (847) 695-4195. Tips may also be shared on the department's website.
WATCH a previous news report on the suburban Chicago tragedy: