In the past year alone, police say 16-year-old Emilio Corripio used a gun at least three times in a carjacking.
In one of the attacks, he punched a victim in the face with a pistol fitted with a laser sight, according to police reports. In another, he waved a .375 caliber Magnum with the serial numbers scratched out.
After pleading guilty last fall, Corripio was probated and was back on the streets with a gun last Saturday in Little Village, police say. This time, he reportedly pulled the trigger, aiming at rival gang members standing around the corner on busy 26th Street.
As he was shooting, 8-year-old Melissa Ortega was crossing the street with her mother. They ran when they heard the first shots, the little girl looking over her shoulder, then collapsed when two bullets hit her in the head.
Corripio then jumped into a taxi driven by his friend, Xavier Guzman, 27, and they headed to a subway for a sandwich, police and prosecutors said. Later that night, the taxi was seen driving past a memorial of candles, flowers and teddy bears at the spot where Melissa died, prosecutors say.
Guzman was arrested two days later after police tracked his taxi using video and the taxi’s GPS, prosecutors said. Corripio, a student at Farragut High School, was arrested the next day.
Both men appeared in bond court on Thursday for murder, attempted murder and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Judge Susana Ortiz ordered they both be held without bail, saying they showed “utter disregard” for public safety.
The judge noted that the shooting happened in the middle of the day on a busy street filled with people shopping and running errands, including Melissa and her mother.
Arguing for no bail, prosecutors noted that Corripio was still on “extensive probation” at the time of the shooting. But they gave only the finest details of the carjackings that led to this conviction.
Police reports obtained by the Sun-Times show that a firearm was used in each carjacking.
In one, Corripio and three others pulled up behind a white 2001 GMC Yukon in the 2600 block of West 37th Place, according to reports. Corripio got out and “raised a gun” and ordered the driver out.
Corripio and the others drove off to the Yukon but were stopped about two miles away and arrested, according to reports.
In another carjacking, Corripio was charged with approaching a car in the 5100 block of South Ridgeway and banging on the window with a handgun fitted with a laser sight, police say.
Corripio punched the victim in the face with the gun and forced her out of the car, police said. He was arrested about 3 1/2 miles away when police used GPS to find him, according to reports.
In the third carjacking, police attended Corripio’s home and, after speaking to his mother, took him into custody for an armed carjacking.
Charged as a minor in all three carjackings, Corripio pleaded guilty in October in exchange for reducing one of the cases to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, prosecutors say.
He was tried for three years. While the case was pending, Corripio was occasionally released from the juvenile detention center under electronic monitoring or subject to a curfew.
Corripio was also arrested twice last year for reckless driving and obstructing traffic, according to a police source.
The other suspect in the shooting, Guzman, had no criminal history, prosecutors said.
Guzman, a commuter taxi driver, was seen picking up Corripio from his home in a taxi with company markings about an hour before the shooting, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.
After driving through the 26th Street area on Komensky Avenue, the two rival members of Gangster Two-Six flashed gang signs around the corner and Guzman pulled up to a nearby alley, said Murphy.
Corripio, a self-proclaimed member of the Latin Kings, crossed the aisle and then opened fire on the group, Murphy said. One of the gang members was hit in the back as he fled.
Melissa was hit on the crosswalk. The hail of bullets also hit a car parked on the street, but a father and his 9-year-old daughter seated inside the car were unhurt.
Surveillance video recorded Corripio leaving the alley and opening fire, but his face could not be seen because he was wearing a balaclava and face mask, Murphy said.
After the shooting, Corripio returned to the taxi and the couple went to a Subway sandwich shop and later to a gas station, where the teenager was videotaped wearing the same clothes and this time his face was visible, Murphy said.
Guzman’s taxi owner identified him as being in possession of the car, and a GPS device inside tracked the taxi’s movements before and after the shooting, Murphy said.
Guzman was arrested Monday and a firearm was reportedly found inside the cabin that matched casings recovered from the scene of the shooting.
Guzman’s cellphone records showed extensive communication with Corripio and the teenager’s fingerprint was found inside the taxi. He was taken into custody the following day, Murphy said.
Corripio lives with his parents, plays football and is currently enrolled in 11th grade, his lawyer said.
Guzman lives with his grandmother, the lawyer said, and argued that prosecutors had provided no evidence that he knew what the teen was planning.
The two were due back in court on February 15.