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9-year-old boy killed while celebrating grandmother’s birthday in Franklin Park. ‘He always had the kindest, sweetest smile.’

Ulysses Campos was playing with his cousins at a 70th birthday party for his grandmother in Franklin Park when shots were fired from a car driving down the alley.

Campos was hit in the chest and died, two weeks shy of turning 10.

“A few of my other cousins were there and they’re all kids,” Karina Cazares, 26, told the Sun-Times. “It’s horrible, it’s awful. They’re traumatized now, I obviously have the trauma from it as well.” 

“We lost a member of our family that we loved and cared for so deeply, and we still do,” Cazares continued. “We just hope that we can put his soul to rest and get through this as a family.”

The shooting happened around 10:15 p.m. Saturday in the 2800 block of Elder Lane. Police said there was “disturbance” in the alley and someone in a passing car fired four to six shots.

Campos was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

A person of interest was taken into custody, and police found a car suspected to be involved in the shooting in Leyden Township, police said.

“This was completely random,” Cazares said. “We were celebrating my grandma’s 70th birthday in the backyard and someone chose to open fire at a group of kids, none of which are gang-related or gang-affiliated.” 

Campos had an older brother and three younger sisters, Cazares said.

Cazares’ favorite memory of Campos was in 2017, when his face lit up after she gave him a straw hat from her time studying abroad in Thailand. 

The hat was “nothing fancy,” but Campos was excited because it was a “recuerdo, a memory of the trips we had taken.” 

Campos loved spending time with the cousins around his age. He enjoyed playing Fortnite with them, sharing his toys and showing them his new gaming headset, according to Cazares.

She described her cousin as someone who “always had the kindest, sweetest smile on his face.” 

“He had a soft but husky voice,” Cazares said. “He was always excited to see everyone.”

In a statement to the Sun-Times, his family described him as “extremely loving, full-hearted, compassionate and easy to approach.” 

A GoFundMe page was created to help Campos’ family with funeral costs. The fundraiser raised over $12,000 as of Monday afternoon. 

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