Charges dropped in slaying of E.C. boy, 7

 

 Saturday, March 15, 2008

 

EAST CHICAGO | Although Michael Silvas Jr. still faces charges in the gun battle that left his 7-year-old son dead, the case against the man accused of firing the fatal shot was dismissed Friday.

Francisco Avila was scheduled to go on trial on a murder charge Monday in the May 7 shooting death of Silvas' son, Angel, but the charges were dropped Friday after authorities concluded they did not have enough evidence.

Lake County prosecutor's office spokeswoman Diane Poulton said although witnesses claim Avila, then 20, fired shots during the gun battle, police did not have the fatal bullet to match to Avila 's gun.

Without ballistics evidence, the case against Avila collapsed, Poulton said.

The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means new charges could be filed if additional evidence surfaces.

Silvas, 25, was a candidate for East Chicago City Council in May, and the shooting took place the day before the primary election near the intersection of

144th Street
and
Tod Avenue
.

In an interview Friday, Silvas said he was campaigning door-to-door at the time when an assassin from the
Latin Kings street
gang was called in to kill him.

Silvas was out on the street, and his son was sitting the back seat of their car when the first bullets were fired. Silvas said he opened fire at Avila and several other gang members in self-defense, and afterward discovered his son had been shot in the head.

East Chicago police immediately said the shooting was the result of violence between rival gangs and said Silvas was a member of a gang called the Spanish Vice Lords that was feuding with the Latin Kings.

Silvas said Friday he has not been a gang member for several years and has never been affiliated with the Spanish Vice Lords. He acknowledged being a Latin King member in his early adolescence, but said he left the gang in his late teens.

Silvas still faces six counts of criminal recklessness, battery and pointing a firearm stemming from the gunfight. His father, Michael Silvis Sr. faces felony counts of carrying a handgun without a license and criminal recklessness in Lake Criminal Court in the same matter.

Silvas Jr. said he has since moved out of Lake County to protect his other children.

The shooting marked the beginning of a violent period for that neighborhood, in which bullets were fired into homes and several buildings were burned in an apparent escalation of gang activity.

What happened
Francisco Avila was scheduled to go on trial on a murder charge Monday in the May 7 shooting death of 7-year-old Angel Silvas, but the charges were dropped Friday after authorities concluded they did not have enough evidence. Without ballistics evidence, the case against Avila collapsed. The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means new charges could be filed if additional evidence surfaces.