Man accused of killing 3 outside Portage Park bar had just been kicked out of birthday party, Top Cop says
PORTAGE PARK — A 32-year-old man has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after police say he fired a gun this weekend after he was thrown out of a birthday party at a Far Northwest Side bar.
Samuel Parsons-Salas, of Portage Park, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of kidnapping. Police said he shot a 25-year-old woman celebrating her birthday and fatally shot his 50-year-old father and two of his friends after an argument.
Parsons-Salas was arrested Monday.
The shooting occurred early Sunday morning in the 5500 block of West School Street, down the block from Vera’s Lounge, 3235 N. Central Ave.
Police said Sunday that an argument that started inside the bar escalated into a physical argument that spilled over into the street.
Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference Tuesday night that Parson-Salas was asked to leave the party. He pulled a gun from a car, faced the group and fired, hitting two men and two women before fleeing in a dark van, police said.
Police have surveillance video of Parsons-Salas removing a gun from a car before shooting the four victims, Brown said.
“He was asked to leave the party and the rest is inexplicable,” Brown said. “Why he escalated this to killing three people because he was asked to leave the party is beyond the pale.”
Ricky Vera, 50, was shot in the head and body and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Mario Pozuelos, 26, and Mercedes Tavares, 24, were shot multiple times and died after being taken to area hospitals.
Mariah Vera, the daughter of Ricky Vera, was shot in the head and critically injured, family and police said. She remains hospitalized through Tuesday night, Brown said.
“These victims were celebrating a birthday,” Brown said. “This incident is a tragedy that should never turn into a loss of life.”
Brown declined to elaborate on how the shooting occurred, saying only that it was “ruthless” and “horrible.”
“I would say with any process that goes forward with bail court, et cetera, throw away the key. Get this person off our streets,” Brown said. “Throw him the book.”
The kidnapping charge stems from the aftermath of the shooting. Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said Parsons-Salas drove off in another car and held a woman against his will while police tracked him down. He was arrested Monday in the 5200 block of West Montrose Avenue.
Brown praised the witnesses for their role in helping police arrest Parsons-Salas so quickly.
“It was not an easy case based on a video; we had to have the cooperation of witnesses,” Brown said. “We wanted to do everything we could to make sure this person was held accountable and charged.”
Ricky Vera, Mario Pozuelos, and Mercedes Tavares were killed on December 11, 2022 during a shootout outside a Portage Park bar.
Families launched GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for their loved ones’ funerals.
Tavares, from the southern suburbs of Chicago Heights, was the mother of three young children: a 3 1/2-year-old boy and 9-month-old twins, her family said.
“She absolutely adored our babies and made our family the center of her life,” Miguel Gordillo, the father of the Tavares children, wrote on GoFundMe. She “was especially excited to celebrate the holidays and she was looking forward to reuniting with our extended families and making beautiful memories with our babies.”
People can donate online.
Ricardo Pozuelos, the brother of Mario Pozuelos, has also launched a GoFundMe and is asking the community to help the family bury the 26-year-old and honor his life.
“Our hearts go out to the other victims and families,” Ricardo Pozuelos wrote. “They never deserved what our Mario had his whole life ahead of” him.
A friend of the Vera family also launched a GoFundMe to help with immediate family needs and Mariah Vera’s medical expenses. So far nearly $8,000 has been raised for the family, with the goal of raising $40,000.
Records show Parsons-Salas recently completed a prison sentence for a 2014 armed home invasion case. He was released on supervised release in September, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.
Parsons-Salas is expected to appear in Cook County Bail Court on Wednesday.
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