#Chicago_Chronicles : Police say man dead after killing daughter's stepfather, high-speed chase

A man shot and killed his daughter's stepfather Thursday afternoon in Bridgeview, and then led law enforcement officers from several agencies on a 40-mile, high-speed chase on the Tri-State Tollway and Interstate 57 before police forced his car into the median and he killed himself, officials said. 

"We have two dead — the man in Bridgeview and the offender," Bridgeview Police Chief Walter Klimek said.

The stepfather shot to death in Bridgeview was identified as Santiago Garcia-Mendoza, 40, and the shooter was identified as Sergio Ramirez-Abeja, 43, of the 6000 block of 76th Avenue in Summit, according to a Bridgeview spokesman.

Klimek said Ramirez-Abeja committed suicide during the pursuit. He had a valid conceal-carry permit for his 9 mm Beretta, the Bridgeview spokesman said.

A utility crew working nearby witnessed the initial shooting in the 7400 block of Beloit Avenue and gave police a good description of the getaway vehicle, including the license plate, the police chief said.

"They saw a dispute happening in the driveway and saw the offender shoot the man at least three times while he was on the ground. The offender ran to 74th Street, where his car was parked, and fled the area," Klimek said.

"One of our officers picked him up on 77th and Harlem. He was the only one following him. At 89th and Harlem, Burbank assisted and we lit him up. That's when he started to flee. He went down 95th Street and jumped on the tollway," he said.

The chase proceeded down 294 to I-57 and was joined by the state police, Klimek said.

"There may have been (police from) other towns (chasing) along the way," he said.

Speeds of up to 85 mph were reportedly reached during the chase.

After leading police south on I-57, Ramirez-Abeja made a U-turn using a lane in the median that is reserved for use by authorized vehicles, Klimek said.

"One of my officers tried to stop him by making a pit move, tapping the back of his car to make it spin, but was unsuccessful. Now they're northbound on I-57 and, at mile marker 329 near Peotone, my other officer hits him from behind, causing him to go into the left swale," Klimek said.

The SUV apparently crashed through a number of steel fence posts before coming to rest in the median.

"The officer stopped his car and was approaching the vehicle when he heard a self-inflicted gunshot," the police chief said.

In Bridgeview, Klimek said Garcia-Mendoza's wife and stepdaughter were at the house when the shooting took place.

"It's one of those horrible stories," Bridgeview spokesman Ray Hanania said.

Neighbors on Thursday evening were stunned by what happened.

"He was a great guy. A wonderful guy, always working on the house," a one woman who lives on the same block and requested anonymity said about Garcia-Mendoza.

Elaine and Gary Crossman live across the street from the family that they said moved in about a year ago.

"They're very nice people," said Gary Crossman, Bridgeview's community services manager. "We became good neighbors. I helped him out a couple times. When his mailbox got knocked over, I gave him my old one when I got my brick one up. I helped register them to vote."

Garcia-Mendoza gutted the house down to the drywall and redid the inside, Crossman said. Garcia-Mendoza also put on new siding, new windows and a new roof.

Elaine Crossman said she was home when the shooting happened just before 2 p.m.

"I heard the 'pow-pow' sounds. I thought a shovel fell outside," Elaine said. "Then I saw (the wife). I heard her screaming. She was on the phone over her husband's body, yelling, 'It's bad, it's bad.' The utility guys said they saw everything and the police were on their way. It was terrible."

Gary Crossman, 55, is a lifelong resident of Bridgeview who walks three blocks to work at the village hall. The usually peaceful neighborhood lies due south of Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire.

"This has been a very quiet neighborhood for a long time. For this to happen right across the street from us, this is not a good thing for our neighborhood," he said.

Garcia-Mendoza's family members were being questioned Thursday evening at the Bridgeview police station, Klimek said.