Samuel Parsons-Salas, Vera Lounge Shooting Suspect, Charged with Killing 3, Seriously Injuring 1, Held Without Bail
CHICAGO (WLS) — The man accused of killing three people and seriously wounding another outside a bar in the Portage Park neighborhood on the city’s northwest side will be held without bail.
The slayings last weekend came just months after the accused shooter was paroled after serving time for a deadly home invasion in 2009.
Prosecutors said several eyewitnesses identified Samuel Parsons-Salas, 32, as the person responsible for the deadly shooting outside the Vera Lounge early Sunday morning.
Parsons-Salas has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed kidnapping, police said Tuesday afternoon. She allegedly walked away from her with a woman and held her against her will after the deadly shooting.
The Sunday shooting occurred at West Melrose Street and North Central Avenue around 2:26 a.m., police said.
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Police said Parsons-Salas was at the Vera Lounge for the birthday party of Mariah Vera, the niece of the lounge owner, when she was asked to leave. Police said she shot all four victims at point blank range.
Vera’s father, Ricky Vera, 50, was killed, as were Mercedes Tavares, 24, and Mario Pozuelos, 26.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail about the horrible way these people were killed, but it was ruthless,” the CPD superintendent said. Said David Brown.
He said he hopes Parsons-Salas remains behind bars forever.
“Whatever process goes forward, bail, court, etc., throw away the key,” Brown said. “Get this person off our streets. Please do not release him under electronic monitoring because he is a danger not only to this community, but to the city of Chicago as a whole.”
Ricky and Pozuelos were shot in the head and body and pronounced dead at the scene, police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Tavares was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead, police and the medical examiner’s office said.
“The defendant then walked to where victim two was lying on the ground, shot him twice, died in the street, and shot him once more point blank in the head,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Salas backed away, shot and seriously wounded Maria.
“The defendant casually approached victim three while assisting her father and shot him in the head at point blank range,” prosecutors added.
Mariah, 25, remains in critical condition at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. She was celebrating her birthday the night of the shooting.
“As long as she’s alive and able to hear everyone, that’s a blessing,” said Annette Vega, a close friend of the victims.
Police said when they chased Parsons-Salas into a West Montrose apartment Monday afternoon, he was holding a woman who was with him at the time of the shooting against her will.
“Everyone involved, including the person the family is upset with, helped us press charges,” Brown said.
Friends of the victims are also outraged by the release of Parsons-Salas.
“It was definitely chaotic at first, a little shocked, confusing. We didn’t really know what was going on,” said Daniel Burgo, a witness.
Comedian Daniel “Joselito” Burgo performed a show in Rosemont earlier that night, and was there at Vera’s Lounge when the shots rang out.
“They just turned the lights on for the last call, so when everyone was coming out, there were shots and everyone ran back. The girl who got shot came back in and everyone got a little nervous because we weren’t sure if he was the shooter. it also came in. So people started hiding under the tables,” Burgo said.
Surveillance video shows people running down Central Avenue after the shooting.
“I just feel bad for the families because this is emotional stuff. One second everyone was laughing taking pictures. Everyone was having fun, and then in a split second everyone was screaming, going crazy. It was crazy.” Sonny said. Santiago, another witness.
“Rick will give you the shirt he’s wearing,” said Oscar Ortiz, a friend of the Vera family. “Excellent husband, excellent grandfather, excellent father, excellent brother.”
Parsons-Salas is already a convicted felon, paroled in September after serving time for a 2009 home invasion in Albany Park in which two people were also shot to death.
Parsons-Salas was initially charged with murder in that case, but pleaded guilty to two counts of trespassing.
Yet for Angelina Escobar’s mother, 13 years has done little to ease the pain.
“A tsunami of pain is coming on you,” said Escobar’s mother, Diana Lauletta. “You don’t live with it. You live around it.”
Escobar and her boyfriend were shot to death in 2009 in their Albany Park apartment.
Five years later, Parsons-Salas, then 23, was charged with first-degree murder, along with another man. But those charges against him were later dropped after he agreed to plead guilty to the trespassing charges, which carried an eight-year sentence.
Three months ago, Parsons-Salas was released on probation.
“I was informed of his release and I knew it was just a matter of time,” Lauletta said.
Now, Lauletta is heartbroken once again.
“I have no words to tell you how bad I feel for those families,” he said. “My 22-year-old granddaughter said that she is a prime example of a complete and spectacular system failure.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said it had no comment at this time on that plea agreement in the Escobar case.
Prosecutors said Salas admitted to shooting and apologized for killing Mercedes Tavares. He appears in court again the next month.
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Sun-Times Media report contributed to this post.
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