Father of slain Elgin 5-year-old now fugitive
By Dave Gathman email@example.com June 25, 2012 2:50PM
Eric Galarza Sr. (center) and Denisse Galarza (left of center), the parents of murder victim Eric Galarza Jr., outside their home in Elgin on Saturday. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: July 27, 2012 6:14AM
WAYNE — The father of a 5-year-old Elgin boy killed in a gang shooting last fall is now a fugitive from the law, wanted for allegedly battering his wife, who is the boy’s mother.
Wayne Police Chief Dan Callahan confirmed Monday that the man who ran from police after a car chase Thursday afternoon and then evaded an intense search in the area of Dunham and Stearns roads was Eric Galarza, 31, of the 900 block of Elma Avenue in Elgin.
Last October, Galarza was leaving his home’s driveway in a car filled with his relatives when someone fired a volley of 9 mm pistol shots into the car, killing his son, Eric Galarza Jr.
Elgin police later charged Miguel Hernandez Jr. of Aurora with murder and attempted murder. Authorities say both the elder Galarza and Hernandez are active in an Elgin street gang, and they believe Galarza was the target of the shooting.
A few days after the shooting, Galarza and his wife, Denisse Ignacio Galarza, led their son’s body in a small white coffin out of funeral services at Elgin’s St. Joseph Catholic Church. And a few days after that, they were in the front ranks of a March Against Gang Violence from the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin to their own house.
At the time, however, Galarza already was out on bond on a charge of aggravated battery, accused of attacking a man in the Cadillac Ranch nightclub in Bartlett last summer. He is still awaiting trial on that charge in Cook County court. He also served a prison sentence for his role in a gang-motivated shotgun attack against two Elgin homes that happened in 2000.
Callahan said the latest incidents began at 7 a.m. Thursday, as Galarza was driving his wife to work at a location in St. Charles. As they drove through Wayne, Mrs. Galarza later told police, they argued violently and he struck her. When she tried to get out of the car, she told officers, her husband pulled a gun from under the car seat and threatened to shoot her. She then let him finish driving her to work.
The chief said that at about 1 p.m., however, Mrs. Galarza decided to return to Wayne and file a police report accusing her husband of domestic battery. She did that. Later in the afternoon, a Wayne patrolman saw Eric Galarza driving through Wayne again, with two children in his car. The patrolman tried to pull over the car but Galarza sped away, heading northbound on Dunham Road, police said.
At the intersection of Dunham and Stearns and Route 25, the chief said, Galarza’s car turned eastward onto Stearns but hit a curb at high speed, flattening its front tires. Galarza then got out of the car and ran into nearby brush, leaving the two children in the car.
Because of confidentiality rules regarding victims’ identification, Callahan could not confirm whether the two children in the car this time were the same two that were riding in the family car in October but survived the shooting of their brother.
Callahan said police from the Wayne, the state of Illinois, Bartlett and South Elgin searched the area for six hours Thursday. But despite help from an airplane, a helicopter and search dogs, they were unable to find Galarza. He also has not been found at the family home in Elgin, Callahan said.
The chief said an arrest warrant has been sworn out for Galarza on charges of domestic battery, and fleeing and eluding police.