Gang, Bang, You're Dead

Caught in the crossfire of a violent culture, a 16-year-old loses his life

Edwardo Soto knew his little brother was dead the moment he turned the corner and saw the police gathered by the ambulance. His sister Carolina was hysterical. She had called Edwardo from a pay phone and screamed that Junior had been shot.

Hector Soto Jr. was laid out on the sidewalk beneath a blue blanket. Even after his parents, Maria and Hector Sr., his cousins and a handful of close friends arrived, the police would not let them view his body until the crime-scene photographers had come and gone.

It was June 16. Carolina, 19, and Junior, 16, had been at Palomino Park, on 30th Street north of Greenway Road, in a predominantly Mexican north Phoenix neighborhood called The Square. A fight broke out between two gangs. According to some accounts, Junior ran over from the basketball court to defend a young woman he thought was Carolina. In the melee that followed, Junior took two bullets, one to the abdomen, the other to his head. He died in the back seat of his sister's car as she drove toward the hospital.

Hector Soto Jr., 16, was killed in somebody else's gang fight.
Hector Soto Jr., 16, was killed in somebody else's gang fight.
Hector Soto Jr., 16, was killed in somebody else's gang fight.
courtesy of Soto family
Hector Soto Jr., 16, was killed in somebody else's gang fight.
Carolina Soto holds a photograph of Junior, her younger brother.
Paolo Vescia
Carolina Soto holds a photograph of Junior, her younger brother.
Junior's parents: Hector Soto Sr. and Maria.
Paolo Vescia
Junior's parents: Hector Soto Sr. and Maria.
Junior's friends and family built a shrine at the site of his death.
Paolo Vescia
Junior's friends and family built a shrine at the site of his death.
Phoenix police detective Sam Favela questions a driver while on gang patrol in The Square.
Paolo Vescia
Phoenix police detective Sam Favela questions a driver while on gang patrol in The Square.

Junior had been a dignified young man, but now his family gazed on the indignity of violent death. Hector Sr. breaks down when he tries to talk about what he saw when he finally lifted the blanket.

Edwardo, the older brother, has the words and the anger to describe it.

"He had ants all over his face, crawling, bro, crawling," he says. "Couldn't they put him on a cot or something?"

It's an all-too-familiar story: a regular kid thoughtlessly caught up in testosterone and territoriality, the victim of adolescent impulse.

It could happen in any neighborhood. But the reality is it happens more frequently in those economically starved, politically ignored neighborhoods where street gangs have rooted like Bermuda grass. And Junior was in one of those neighborhoods.

Regardless of socioeconomic standing, gang tragedy always seems to catch the family and friends completely by surprise.

Junior's friends, and he had many, call on the magic reality of adolescence to describe Junior.

"He was a laid-back dude," says his cousin Lupe Nieto.

"He was fatalistic, he knew he was going to die," says one girl who had known him since they were both 11 years old.

School teachers and neighbors who didn't know him soon linked him to every sad story that had ever been told in The Square. Wasn't that his cousin who died playing Russian roulette? Wasn't he related to that kid who left town because of gang threats?

No, on both accounts.

Junior Soto was an average kid who managed to stay out of a gang, but couldn't keep completely away. His sister, Carolina, had a long relationship with a gang called Mexican Brown Pride, though she apparently was never a full-fledged gang member. Junior barely hung out with other Hispanics, let alone gangbangers, but through his sister's friendships and acquaintances had safe passage at Palomino Park, which neighbors describe as MBP territory.

People in The Square know that Junior was not in MBP and that his sister used to be close to the gang. And though there were dozens of witnesses to his shooting, the story of how Junior died swelled and shrank and wavered, depending on whom those witnesses were talking to.

By some accounts, Carolina started the fight -- she denies it -- and Junior ran to her rescue. Others say the girl fighting was an MBP girl who resembles Carolina. Either way, according to neighborhood hearsay, a man from the other gang squared off against Junior, and he or his associates shot Junior. The police think Junior just got in the way of bullets intended for someone else.

But out of fear of gang retaliation or perhaps a general Mexican mistrust of the police, that hearsay doesn't reach police investigators, not even from Junior's siblings. Which is ironic, considering that Junior's father has put up a $1,000 Silent Witness reward for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

"No one talks to me," says Phoenix Police Detective Eleuterio Fragoso, who is handling the case. "I can never get a straight story on anything, and that's what becomes so frustrating for us.

"Maybe once these bad guys kill somebody else or hurt somebody else, or eventually a girlfriend decides to snitch him off," Fragoso continues, "that's about the only time we get these things to open up."

As grieving teenagers will, Junior's sister and his friends erected a small shrine next to the sidewalk where he died. "Hector Soto, Jr., RIP." It's got a picture of the Virgin Mary, a couple of votive candles, and a teddy bear wearing sunglasses. The property owners have left it there.

Junior's parents still break down when they talk about him. Hector Sr. sat in his backyard for days, drinking and weeping. Maria Soto couldn't get out of bed for a week and now spends much of her time at Mass praying for Junior's soul and the souls of her other children. The youngest child, 10-year-old Victor, who shared a room with Junior, now comes to his sister's room at night, afraid to sleep alone.

Cindy Nieves recalls the night her son ran into the house and threw himself on the floor and screamed, "Junior's dead, Junior's dead!"

When the news of Junior's death first hit the newspapers, her son and Junior's other friends sat in her backyard weeping uncontrollably about the scant article they felt insinuated that Junior was just another Mexican gangbanger who got what he deserved.

Even Carolina, whose friendship with gangsters contributed to Junior's death, cringes at the suggestion that her brother was connected to any gang.

They all knew Junior as the kid they'd seek out for heavy heartfelt conversation, the kid they'd talk to when their parents were driving them to despair. He was the kind of kid who would run to his sister's rescue.

But he was laid out on the sidewalk, his face frozen in the surprised and embarrassed half smile of sudden death. As Edwardo gazed at his little brother's body that night in The Square, he couldn't help but notice a resemblance to a photograph of Junior taken on a happier day, after a friend's wedding. Junior had his shirt off, his loosened tie hung over his tee shirt.

His eyes were half open, his mouth half smiling.

"He was always smiling," Edwardo says.


Junior Soto died in The Square, but he did not live there. The Soto home is a mile north in a predominantly white working-class neighborhood. But many of the Hispanic kids who went to school with the Soto kids do live there, and Carolina and Junior's names are well-known there.

The Square is a square mile of close-packed trailer parks and apartment complexes between Cave Creek Road and 32nd Street, and between Greenway and Bell roads. It's a low-rent island, surrounded by lily-white enclaves and pricey, red-tiled-roof developments.

It also has one of the highest rates of juvenile crime in the Valley, according to Maricopa County juvenile-probation records. Probation officers say the crime rate is primarily a reflection of gang activity.

If the elementary school in The Square is any indicator, at least half of The Square's population is Hispanic.

And at night it seems like all of it is. Folks sit on lawn chairs along the sidewalks in front of their apartments. Dark-windowed cars cruise past bands of baggy-pantsed youths, spanned side-by-side as they walk the streets.

Evenings, Palomino Park is a sea of humanity, nearly all of it Hispanic, hundreds of people playing basketball or volleyball or foosball or picnicking. The white faces of the park's workers stick out like Iraqis at a bar mitzvah.

Palomino Park is Mexican Brown Pride territory, according to street wisdom, though MBP is only one of the neighborhood's gangs. According to police documents, MBP was the dominant gang until it began splintering in 1992 into gangs with names like Sur/13 and K/13; trece, the number 13, stands for the 13th letter of the alphabet: M for Mexico. Another of the MBP offshoots, Vatos Locos Sinaloenses, which means "crazy guys from Sinaloa," tends to be made up of Mexican nationals, while MBP is a mix of Chicanos and younger, more assimilated Mexicans.

According to police intelligence, MBP stands against all of those rival newcomers.

Public perception paints gangs as roving and faceless bands of Goths and Visigoths pillaging neighborhoods; in reality, they may be more like the Viet Cong.

But instead of VC black pajamas, that charming fellow or gal who sits next to your son or daughter in history class may put on gang colors at night to kick it with his or her homies, whether or not he or she actually does anything criminal.

"What you don't find at home, you're going to find on the street," says Manny Tarango, a former social worker at North Canyon High School who now works for the Phoenix Parks Department.

The kids who get involved in the gangs are "the ones who want things but are naive and limited in their scope of thinking about how to get them," echoes Barbara Harp, social worker at Palomino Elementary School, across the street from the park. Her kids get recruited by older kids, who themselves are only 12 and 13 years old.

"A lot of times, the kids from Greenway Middle School come home early and come through our community because some of them live here, and they're trying to threaten the students in our population, saying Greenway is so bad, you really need to affiliate yourself for protection," Harp continues. "And these kids are so naive that they often fall into that trap."

Then all those kids come together at North Canyon High School, with the rich kids from the upscale developments.

For the most part, the schools themselves are spared from gang violence and even graffiti. Palomino, Greenway and North Canyon all have zero-tolerance policies and pounce on gang behaviors as soon as they are identified. And besides, the community regards the schools as havens that provide much-needed resources and services -- breakfast and lunch and outreach programs at Palomino, for example, and a Boys and Girls Club at Greenway. So gang graffiti more likely turn up on property across the street from the schools than on the schools themselves.

But what happens to the students when they leave school property is another question altogether.

Junior Soto managed to steer clear of gang troubles, respected as much for his good nature as his don't-mess-with-me physique.


In life, Hector Soto Jr. was no angel. Like many teenage boys, he smoked the occasional joint, drank the occasional underage beer, snuck his girlfriend into the house when his parents were away.

But he was well-liked by teachers and teenagers and their parents.

His high school principal remembers him as a nice, quiet boy with a wide range of friends.

"I loved the kid," says Cindy Nieves, whose son Nick was Junior's close friend. "He was here every day after school. They played basketball in front of the house with Lupe every day. And they're the only kids that ever showed me any respect."

Basketball was Junior's main passion. At 5-foot, 6-inches, he was too short to play organized ball, but he and his friends played nearly every day in driveways or at the middle school at the end of the block. On the day he died, he'd gone to Palomino Park for a pickup game because his usual ball-playing friends were all busy doing other things.

When Junior wasn't playing ball, he was lifting weights. He'd built himself up to a taut 180 pounds and could bench press a hundred pounds more than his weight.

He had a steady girlfriend. And he had a steady job working a cash register at the Kyoto Bowl at 32nd Street and Greenway Road; despite a fondness for water fights with the kitchen staff, the manager says he was a well-liked hard worker.

He'd intended to work there long enough to save up for a car and then get a job at the nursing home where his mother works.

He told his closest friends that he wanted to go into the military after high school and then become a police officer.

"When he was 10 years old, he said to me, 'Mami, yo quiero trabajar. I want to work,'" Maria Soto remembers.

She took him to a store in their south-side Chicago neighborhood to see if he could get a job there, but the shop owner told them he was too young. So then Junior asked if he could push an ice cream cart and sell popsicles. Maria dutifully tracked down the owner of such carts, who told her that her son could only sell popsicles if she accompanied him.

Junior was 11 when the family moved to Phoenix, "Para buscar una mejor vida para ellos" -- to find a better life for them, his father says.

Hector Soto Sr., 48, is a slight man with sad, light-colored eyes and a full dark mustache. His wife, Maria, 49, has dark Indian features. Hector calls her by the nickname Lucha, which means "struggle."

Hector Sr. was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to New York when he was 13.

As a young man, he migrated to Chicago, where he met and married Maria.

Maria was born in Durango, Mexico. It was a slightly unusual union -- in Chicago, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans comprise distinct communities that share a mutual distrust -- but they have been married for 25 years. They lived in a Mexican community called Little Village in southwest Chicago, near Midway Airport.

They came to Phoenix in 1994 and moved into an integrated, lower-middle-class neighborhood near 28th Street and Union Hills, next door to Maria's sister and her family, the Nietos. Edwardo was already there.

Because Hector Sr. and Maria speak little English, Edwardo, at 22 the oldest son, has served as a third parent for his younger brothers and sister. It was Edwardo who would kick Junior's butt and drag him to school when he caught him ditching, Edwardo who stopped by Kyoto Bowl to ask the manager to find more hours for Junior to work so that he'd have less time to smoke dope with his buddies. It was Edwardo who put Carolina in a gang-prevention group at the local teen center, Edwardo who would appear at school on behalf of both siblings if they got in trouble -- as he did the time Junior called out a youth who had bad-mouthed his sister.

And when Edwardo sees his sister's gang friends, he fixes a disapproving gaze on them to let them know that he holds them responsible for Junior's death.

Edwardo goes by the nickname Lalo. He is a small man like his father, but he has a big walk that he learned as a gangbanger in Chicago, where gang membership is mandatory. If you're born into the neighborhood, you're born into the neighborhood gang.

He speaks with flat Midwestern vowels, overlaid with a rasp and a quarter-time cadence peculiar to Chicago Hispanics. But his voice is always dead-on sincere. He won't say much about his own gang life in Chicago except that the gang "was like my family," and that when he became a father at age 16, he realized he "was in deep," and needed to get out. So when he finished high school, he moved his young family to Phoenix.

He and his cousin would walk the streets of The Square without being bothered, because they were "the guys from Chicago." Edwardo told the local gangsters that he couldn't join their sets because where he came from, gang membership was for life. It was an excuse that was good enough for Phoenix, though it wouldn't have passed muster back home.

Edwardo now has four children and a tire business in north Phoenix.

Junior had come to Phoenix at a young enough age to assimilate into his integrated neighborhood. Carolina joked that he was becoming a white boy, "because he started saying 'dude' and stuff."

"He was always on the jock highway, and I was by Little Mexico in school," she says. "I don't have anything against white people, but I'm from Chicago, and there's hardly any white people there."

Her adaptation to Anglo north Phoenix was more difficult because she came at the uneasy, identity-seeking age of 14.

Her Mexican friends in Chicago spoke mostly in English and even danced to English-language music. In Phoenix, the Mexicans were more likely to speak Spanish and dance to Mexican music. And though that was strange to her, it was less strange than Anglo Arizona.

She fell in with kids from the Mexican Brown Pride gang.

"They were the first people I met in high school," she says. "I started kicking with them at school, and then a couple, two, three years ago, I started kicking with them [after school] and going to parties."

They would go dancing or to the amusement park or cruising in low riders or partying in The Square.

Carolina claims she was never "jumped in" to the gang -- the ritual beating one endures to become a full-fledged gang member -- and she has no criminal record. To Edwardo's dismay, her name does turn up in police records as a "documented gang member" or an "MBP associate," meaning that she associates with Mexican Brown Pride members.

She has taken a long time to get through high school -- she is now a senior at age 19 -- and school staffers remember her alternately as a troublemaker or a peacemaker.

In fact, she could talk to the gang members and calm them, and occasionally was called upon to do so. She admits that when her gang friends were looking for mischief, she would say, "'That's stupid. Why do you want to steal a car, get arrested for fucking joy riding?' I would make them see things differently, and they would say, 'Gato [her nickname], that's true!'"

And yet she remains loyal enough to them that she won't reveal whereabouts of friends who could substantiate her account of Junior's death.

Social worker Manny Tarango remembers Carolina from North Canyon High School and from a gang-prevention group that she attended at a teen center. He describes her as "a good-kid, gone bad-kid, gone trying-to-be-a-good-kid."

"Although Carolina may have been one of the deepest involved in the gang, she was my biggest ally in getting other kids before they got into a gang," says Tarango.

On the night of Junior's death, Carolina was hanging out with a friend who goes by the gang name of Puppet. In fact, it was Puppet who heroically carried Junior to Carolina's car after he was shot. Although Puppet could not be located for this story, police and court records quoted him as saying that he was jumped into MBP and later jumped out -- which entails another beating -- and that he was on probation for attempting to sell stolen cars to undercover officers. Then, while awaiting trial, he had found religion and left the gang life.

Carolina, likewise, swears that her own days as a gang associate are past.

"It's over," she says. "I'm not trying to give my parents any more grief."

And that's also the word in The Square.


On a recent Thursday night, Phoenix gang squad detectives Steve Bailey and Sam Favela motor through The Square in their unmarked cruiser, gathering intelligence.

At first blush, their technique seems heavy-handed. They follow the bands of youths and stop suspicious-looking cars on any pretext they can spot -- high beams up, taillight out. Nearly every time they stop, two marked patrol cars pull up to make sure the detectives are not in any trouble. They approach each car cautiously; about twice a year, Bailey says, they pull over someone who starts shooting.

Neighborhood residents come out of homes and apartment buildings to thank them for being there, and the officers respond with good-natured appreciation of their own.

On this night, one car they pull over turns out to be full of undocumented teenagers, and since the Phoenix Police Department has no jurisdiction over immigration, Bailey lets them go -- but not before he tries to tell the driver that his faked credentials are truly dismal.

"No es bueno," he says, straining his command of Spanish and pointing at the card.

When he gets back in the car, Bailey explains that he feels sympathy for those otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who have come to Phoenix looking for a better life.

Even when dealing with documented gang members, Bailey takes a respectful tone of voice. The gangsters respond with forced-friendly bravado. It's a game, and both cops and gangbangers know the rules. It is from such encounters that Carolina Soto's name appears in police reports.

In an apartment complex parking lot off 29th Street, they encounter four boys in baggy pants and tank-top tee shirts. At first the boys deny any gang affiliation. Then they claim that they aren't doing anything wrong; one of them is on probation for graffiti violations. Then, as Bailey presses, they admit they're affiliated with K/13.

"The chicos and the peewees, they're the warriors in the streets," says Favela, referring to the youngest gang members, like these.

"They actually think they're protecting the streets."

Indeed, the boys swagger and exchange repartee with the officers. They are 12 and 13 years old and attend Greenway Middle School, they say in accented English.

They know all about Junior Soto: "His sister was in a gang, MBP," one of them offers. "But he wasn't in. And she got out."

One handsome young fellow with a bandanna on his head says that his gang name is Veneno, which means "poison."

"I usually don't fight, but when I get mad, nobody messes with me," he says, smiling.

"Remind me not to make you mad," Bailey counters without a trace of irony in his voice. Then he asks if they'll pose for Polaroid photographs. The boys comply, proudly throwing gang hand signs, seeming not to care that if they ever get in trouble and their lawyer tries to convince a jury that they are not gang members, these photos will suddenly reappear.

When asked in Spanish why he agrees to talk to the police, another of the youngsters, who goes by the gang name Tiny Chango, a slang word for "monkey," drops the cordial tone he'd used with the police in English. He knows what he can and can't say, and besides, he's not saying anything incriminating.

All four of the boys are Mexican nationals, and they seem perplexed by the social barriers between them and second- and third-generation Mexicans.

"I don't know why the gangs are fighting if we are all Mexicans," says Veneno.

Hours later, the officers encounter the same boys, along with some new friends, on a street corner several blocks away.

As the boys sit on the curb next to the cruiser, one of them looks up at Favela.

"Where you from?" the boy asks.

"From here," Favela answers.

"Phoenix?"

"No, California."

"You're Mexican, right?" the boy persists.

"Yeah."

"So where are you from in Mexico?"

The boy still doesn't get that Favela's family has been in the United States enough generations to have forgotten how to speak Spanish, let alone to still think of Mexico as home. But the youngster persists until Favela stops answering.

The boy spits on the street. Favela spits on the street.

A tiny Indian woman comes out of an apartment building and begins talking to the boys.

Veneno asks a favor: "Tell her in Spanish that we're not in trouble and the cops just want to talk to us."

The woman relates that Tiny Chango is her son and that one of the other kids is her nephew. Tiny Chango barks at her in Spanish and tells her not to say anything else.

Then, when asked in English why he didn't want a reporter to talk to his mother, he acts surprised.

"Does your mother know you run with the gang?"

"She don't care," he says, ignoring the fact that the woman had run out of her home to see if her son was in trouble.

But having caring, concerned parents is not foolproof protection against being caught up in a gang. And bilingual children often have an information advantage over parents who speak only Spanish; they use it as they see fit.

Bailey and Favela pull over a '63 Chevy Impala that is lacking a license-plate light. Its driver is a gangbanger they know well, and they handcuff him as he gets out of the car, because, as they claim, he sometimes comes out swinging.

But tonight, he's in a talkative mood, and when the detectives ask if he's got any tattoos, he displays an elegant depiction of the Virgin of Guadalupe that he wears on his chest.

"Virgin Mary, she saved my life," he says without elaborating.

Then he pulls aside the straps of his tank top to show the two-inch-high letters that spell out "Mexican Brown Pride" on his back.

"What's it mean to me? It means that I'm Mexican, brown, and proud, because we got a lot of racist people around here. We got to keep la Raza together."

He's not really taking part in any gang activity, he says, whatever that might be. People are too busy taking care of business to be hanging out, he claims. Unless there's an emergency.

"Violence come down, well, you got to take care of 'em, I guess, so they don't bother us no more."

As for Junior Soto, he says, "Hey, it could have been anybody, man. They were shooting left and right."


The circumstances of Junior Soto's untimely death are fraught with seemingly simple questions: Did Carolina know there would be a fight? Was she or her unavailable look-alike friend in the middle of it? Did Junior run to her defense or just get caught in the crossfire?

"Everyone has their own story," Carolina says. Hers is that she doesn't know what happened or who did it. It has been a consistent story since the night of the murder.

And that brings up one more question: Is she protecting herself or her gang friends? Or is she just plain telling the truth?

The events that led to Junior's death, however, were a series of one-time coincidences. Police reports, eyewitness accounts, family members and neighborhood hearsay tell this story:

Hector Sr. last saw Junior when his son left for work; they'd been playing with a pair of walkie-talkies like a couple of kids. And when Junior left work early in the evening, his usual basketball buddies were out on dates or at the movies, so he called his sister to pick him up at a friend's house. He wanted to go to Palomino Park where there was sure to be a pickup game that he could rotate into.

Carolina didn't want to drive him at first, but then relented, and she and her friend Puppet swung by to get him. They reached the park a little after 9 p.m. Junior went to the basketball court, Carolina played foosball over by the volleyball courts.

Several minidramas emerge from the police report. One witness told investigators that members of MBP and VLS and other gangs, black and Hispanic, had gathered to discuss a possible truce. Another witness claimed that MBP and VLS members were flashing signs and calling out their gang names and going two by two into the vacant lot across from the park for fistfights.

But everyone agrees that the melee began with a fight between two girls, that one of the "strangers" stepped in, and then all hell broke loose, with 20 to 40 rival gang members fighting against five to 10 MBP members.

Carolina contends that the fracas came out of nowhere. If the fight had been planned, she says, "I don't think it would have been four or five of us against a whole crowd of people. That would be stupid. That's why some of the homies felt bad, 'Oh my God, we should have been there.' But honestly, nobody knew.

"If they told me, 'Oh, we're going to meet up,' I never would have taken my little brother. I probably wouldn't even be there myself."

More than one witness told police that Carolina was one of the girls in the skirmish who touched off the brawl. Edwardo, who was not there, had heard -- as have other neighborhood friends of Junior's -- that the fighter was Carolina's friend Maggie. Maggie could not be reached to corroborate; Carolina claimed that Maggie chose not to talk to New Times.

Edwardo had heard that Junior ran over to the fight and got into it with the "big-time guy from the other gang" who had interrupted the girls' fight, and that Junior, fit and heavily muscled, got the best of the match.

"He got embarrassed because a 16-year-old kid knocked him out," Edwardo says, and that was a capital offense in someone's mind.

Detective Fragoso, the police investigator, thinks that Junior was just in the way when the shots rang out. But the autopsy report on Junior details bruises on the wrists and knuckles that are consistent with bruises that might occur during a fistfight.

This much is clear: The park lights suddenly went out, and the shooting started. All that witnesses could see were muzzle flashes against the darkness. Everyone started to run, panicked crowds stampeding across the park, away from the guns or diving into the metal sheds on the park grounds. One other man was struck in the ear by an errant bullet.

Carolina remembers her friend Puppet shouting, "Run to your car now."

She was seen running along 30th Street screaming her brother's name. Junior limped out of the darkness holding his back and saying he'd been shot there. In fact, he'd been shot in the front -- his abdomen -- and the bullet had blown right through him, severing an artery, puncturing his bowels and bladder, and exiting his back. He might have bled to death from that wound alone.

Puppet half-carried Junior to Carolina's car and helped him slide, headfirst, into the back seat.

Carolina peeled away from the curb as the rear window exploded from gunfire. One tire was shot out; Edwardo later pulled a bullet out of the rim. Another bullet struck Junior in the right side of his forehead, passed through his brain and his skull and came to rest beneath the skin above his left ear. He died quickly, although Carolina did not even know he'd been shot a second time as she raced toward the hospital.

Carolina pulled over a few blocks later on Paradise Lane when she saw a police car behind her, thinking that the police could help her get Junior to the hospital more quickly, or perform first aid.

The officer helped Carolina pull Junior from the car and laid him on the sidewalk. He walked back to his squad car to radio for an ambulance, she recalls. Carolina had learned CPR during lifeguard classes she'd taken in Chicago, and she tried to revive Junior.

As police lights flashed, she pumped on his chest and screamed out futilely for somebody, anybody, to save her brother.

Contact Michael Kiefer at his online address: mkiefer@newtimes.com

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