CHICAGO — Family, colleagues and neighbors are paying their respects to slain Chicago Police Officer John Petty Rivera on the Far South Side Thursday.
A line of mourners could be seen entering the Elmwood Funeral Home, 11200 S. Ewing Avenue, for Rivera's wake Thursday afternoon. Rivera, 23, was off-duty when he was gunned down in River North early Saturday.
Rivera and a small group of friends had just left a restaurant on the 600 block of North Clark Street around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, and were sitting in a car nearby when they were fired upon. A 23-year-old male friend of Rivera’s was also critically wounded.
CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson described the attack as a hate crime since Rivera was targeted; not because he was a police officer, but because he was Latino. Police say his alleged killers had a run-in with some Latinos on a party bus earlier, and after failing to locate them and retaliate, opened fire on the first Hispanic man they saw.
Menelik Jackson, 24, and Jovan Battle, 32, are both facing first-degree murder and other charges in the case. A third suspect is still on the loose.
Rivera was on the job as a police officer for two years before he was killed. He graduated in 2013 from Brother Rice High School, which routinely produces public servants. Sadly, he joins the ranks of alumni who died too soon, including officers John C. Knight, Thomas Wortham and Alex Valadez. Brother Rice Principal Bob Alberts said Rivera's death was heartbreaking for the community.
"He was such a wonderful young man; quiet, kept to himself, under the radar, never got in trouble, everybody liked him," Alberts said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson came to pay his respects Thursday, as did Cook County Commissioner John Daley, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, Ald. Ed Burke, and mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot. Visitors from the Hegewisch neighborhood, where Rivera grew up, were also in attendance.
"We are just here to support his family," neighbor Mayra Gaata said.
Rivera's wake continues until about 9 p.m. Thursday. A funeral mass will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Annunciata Church, 11128 S. Avenue G, in Chicago.