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In Wake Of Shooting That Killed 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega, Community Leader Calls For Mental Health Clinics, Funding To Prevent Crime In Little Village

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The shooting that killed 8-year-old Melissa Ortega is not only heartbreaking, but also a big concern for the Little Village neighborhood.

A third grader at Emiliano Zapata Academy, Melissa was new to Chicago - here since August - and excited to build a better life with her mother, both from Mexico.

But on her way from the bank to get a hamburger on Saturday afternoon, hand-in-hand with her mom at 26th Street and Pulaski Road in Little Village, gang violence stole all of that from her – and her from her family.

Police have said the gunfire Melissa and her mother tried to escape was part of a gang war; the shots meant for a 26-year-old man who was nearby. He was shot and critically wounded.

Baltazar Enriquez, president of the Little Village Community Council, told CBS 2's Jim Williams and Marie Saavedra Monday that his organization is asking for federal help – and in particular mental health clinics in the community.

"We're calling on our congressman, Jesus Garcia, to come and assist the community – bring us federal funding. We've been asking for mental health clinics here in Little Village, because our community is traumatized. Our community has been traumatized. Our children are traumatized," Enriquez said. "So what happens when you are a mother and they kill your child? Where do you run to? Where do you seek help? There's none of these centers here in Little Village."

Enriquez said he is also calling on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker to help bring the funds needed for the community to develop the tools to fight and prevent crime.

"Mental health is a very important issue, and we see the violence in our community and our children being normalized to murder, to death – it's just normal. It's OK. So it shouldn't be OK. So we're fighting for our children to have a place where they would go and get the services that they need," he said. "And we need it now. We don't need it tomorrow or next week. We need it now."

Monday morning, Mayor Lightfoot offered her condolences, and thanked the community for surrounding Melissa's mother with love as she grieves the loss of her daughter.

"Losing a child under any circumstances is horrifying, and the circumstances in which this family lost this precious, precious child is almost unspeakable," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot also provided a brief update on the investigation into the shooting.

"I can't get into a lot of specific details, but I can tell you the detectives have been literally working 24/7, that there are some promising leads, and I hope that we'll have a more substantive announcement soon," Lightfoot said.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown also said detectives have "very strong leads" in the case, but declined to confirm or deny published reports that shooting was caught on video, and that the footage shows Melissa was in clear view of the shooter when he opened fire, and that he did not care the girl was in the line of fire.

Melissa Ortega's family plans to take her back to Mexico, where she will be buried in her hometown.

Their ask for help in making that happen on GoFundMe has already raised more than $53,000, more than double its goal of $20,000.

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