Teen’s family doesn’t qualify for Chicago crime victim fund because he was murdered ‘too far up north’

Benicio “Benny” Gomez (GoFundMe)

CHICAGO — Benicio “Benny” Gomez’s family doesn’t qualify for financial support from Chicago’s crime victim support fund because he was murdered “too far up north,” one of the slain 16-year-old’s friends told CWBChicago over the weekend.

The friend, sadly, is correct. A city support fund, recently expanded by Mayor Brandon Johnson, offers compensation to young shooting victims, but only if they live or get shot in 15 neighborhoods deemed “priority community areas.”  Shooting victims aged 24 and under in those areas can receive up to $2,000 each time they are shot. Survivors of murder victims in the zones can receive up to $3,500.

The 15 priority areas are Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, New City, North Lawndale, Roseland, South Lawndale, South Shore, West Englewood, West Garfield Park, and West Pullman.

But Benny was murdered—and two of his 16-year-old friends were injured—by a gunman in West Ridge, far removed from any of the city’s “priority” areas. The boys were entering a silver Hyundai in the 5600 block of North Rockwell when the gunman opened fire around 6:57 p.m. last Friday, according to Chicago police. A black SUV sped away from the area with the gunman inside, CPD said.

Benny’s friends turned to GoFundMe to help the boy’s family, and Chicagoans have donated in droves, taking care of crime victims that the mayor’s office apparently considers second-tier.

The campaign has raised $26,164 as of Wednesday morning, within range of its $30,000 goal.

“Benicio had a smile that could brighten your day,” Benny’s family wrote in a thank-you note to supporters. “His sense of humor brought joy to everyone who knew him, and he had a way of making the world a better place just by being in it.”

“We are profoundly grateful for your kindness and support. Your donations have been beyond words. We will forever cherish your generosity and the love you’ve shown us.”

Benny’s family will lay him to rest on Saturday.

About Tim Hecke 363 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com