A family is still searching for answers as to why a 19-year-old member of the National Guard was killed in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood last summer.
His family is now demanding that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office reevaluate the case.
Lourdes Lara still visits her son’s grave daily.
“He was in a point in his life where he was young. He was just beginning to live,” Lara says of her son.
There are days she puts on music and spends time watering the flowers on his burial site.
“Last year around this time we were preparing to welcome him home,” Lara said. “Thrilled that he was coming home and our lives have changed forever.”
Chrys Carvajal, 19, had graduated from National Guard training and was set to be stationed at a military base in Riverside. Last summer, he was shot dead over the Fourth of July weekend.
“He was invited to a party with his girlfriend. At one point he decides to go to his car and he was three cars away from his when he fell to the ground,” Lara said.
According to police reports, Carvajal was gunned down July 3 in a drive-by shooting. His family says detectives collected evidence, including witness testimony, but prosecutors and Foxx’s office declined to press charges.
“Her team decided that even with all the evidence and the witnesses and a singled out person, it still wasn’t enough,” said Jennifer Ramirez, Carvajal’s sister. “We have camera footage, we have footage from the city’s camera … so we don’t understand.”
In a statement, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said they’ve reviewed the information presented by police and, “At this time, it was determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to file murder charges.”
Almost a year later, the family is calling on Foxx to revisit the case.
“My brother Chrys Carvajal took an oath to serve and protect this country, this community,” Ramirez said. “He was working to become a Chicago police officer as well. He was going to serve and protect your city, the least you can do is bring justice.”
Veteran Marcos Torres never met the young man but has been working with the family to bring justice to the case.
“What is the message we are sending to our citizens here in Chicago if you are doing the right thing, if you are serving your county and you get killed right here in your own streets and the people who are in charge to prosecute, don’t prosecute,“ said Torres.
Ramirez says she wants the world to remember her younger brother as the hardworking and loving young man he was.
“We want the youth to follow his steps. He had a bright future ahead of him and he was working towards his goals and even though his life was cut short he achieved many of those goals and one of those was joining the National Guard,” she said.
As Lara flips through an album of her son’s pictures, you can see a glimpse of the life Chris lived. A life, Lara says, that was filled with family and friends.
“No matter what I do, my son is not coming back,” Lara said. “ I would give up my life for my son to come back.”
As the family prepares to come together for a memorial service this weekend, a grieving mother holds on to her faith that justice will come.
“We take it one day at a time. The message I want to convey to the young people is don’t give up. You are a voice for this city and your community,” Lara said. “Keep chasing your dreams.”
The family is offering a $25,000 reward for any other information leading to an arrest.