Abner Garcia, A United States Army veteran who mentored at-risk youth in his home city of Chicago, was shot over the weekend in a senseless act of violence.
23-year old Garcia and two of his friends sat in a stopped car at an intersection in Chicago at around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday when another car approached. The car was described as a silver mini van.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, someone inside the van “flashed gang signs” and began an argument with Garcia. The assailant then opened the door and shot Garcia in the head.
Garcia was taken to Mount Sinai hospital and pronounced dead at 5:45 a.m.
A Young Life Dedicated to Service
Abner Garcia joined the Army in at age 19. He served four years honorably and returned to Chicago after being stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.
He had intended to become a police officer. He was attending the University of Illinois at Chicago with the desire to help his community and stop Chicago’s growing problems with crime.
Garcia was part of a YMCA mentoring program for at-risk youth in urban Chicago. The “Urban Warriors” program pairs young men who might otherwise join gangs with veterans who might be able to convince them not to embark on a path of violence.
Abner Garcia participated in two 16-week Urban Warriors programs and was about to begin his third. Eddie Bocanegra, founder of Urban Warriors, said that the teens he mentored gravitated toward him because of his “magnetic” personality.
In May, Abner lost his uncle, Jesus Juarez, to gun violence.
Juarez was standing at the take-out counter of a restaurant with a few other customers when he was shot. He was described as a “hardworking family man” who owned a heating and air conditioning company and had three children.
Abner Garcia is survived by his father, sister and brother.