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'We Can Only Do So Much:' Teachers Mourn Pregnant Teen Shot Dead In Gage Park, Express Worry About Violence

CHICAGO CBS) -- Lizette Mata, 16, is among Chicago's latest young victims of gun violence – she was killed this past Thursday night in Gage Park.

And we learning that not only was she shot while trying to help someone else, but she was also pregnant at the time.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra on Sunday shared Lizette's story – and the fear of growing violence – through the eyes of the teenage girl's teachers.

Grief washes over Leonor Martinez in waves. She had to interrupt her interview with Parra, saying, "I'm sorry," as she broke down.

She talks about Lizette, her former student, as if the teen were still here.

Reality takes time to sink in.

"It broke our heart, like we couldn't help but cry," said another former teacher of Lizette's, Vanessa Saucedo. "This is the conversation we dread."

This time, the news they dreaded is about a little girl they used to see on the playground; the shy, but loving Lizette, whom they watched grow into a young woman.

Days ago, Lizette was walking an alley behind the 5200 block of South Kedzie Avenue when a group of men started beating up her boyfriend. When she tried to help, she was shot and killed.

"It's just one thing after another, and we feel helpless to a certain extent," Saucedo said. "We can only do so much."

Saucedo and Martinez aren't part of Lizette's family, but they might as well be. They are teachers, and to be a teacher is to love like family and worry like family.

"The reality for many of our students – you never really know," Saucedo said. "That's the heartbreaking part."

These days, there is more to worry about – and there are fewer ways to cope.

"Ut could be gang violence, mental health. We've had several families that have lost loved ones as well during COVID," Saucedo said. "We're like on edge. Even though we don't see our students we still worry about them."

That is especially true for those who teach in neighborhoods where resources are low and violence is high.

"No matter how much people get used to hearing news like this about our young people, you don't really get used to it," Saucedo said.

There is now a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case. Police as of late Sunday were still searching for the culprits behind the death of the pregnant teen.

Anyone with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling (800) 853-5587, or going to

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