A man was killed after he tried to stop carjackers from stealing his vehicle while he and his girlfriend were renting a movie over the weekend in a west Chicago suburb.
Christopher Florez, a 24-year-old Marine, was killed around 9 p.m. Sunday near Harlem and Roosevelt in Oak Park, family members and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed.
There, authorities said he was the victim of a carjacking.
Florez’s girlfriend, who was with him at the time along with her daughter, said the couple was outside a Jewel Osco in the west Chicago suburb, renting a movie for a family night in. The vehicle had been left running while the couple was at the outdoor DVD rental box a few feet away.
Veronica Licea said Florez saw someone jump into his 2016 Dodge Challenger and ran over to try and stop them from taking the car. Licea said Florez tried to grab the steering wheel, but was dragged away from the scene.
“He was trying to stop the guy from closing the door, but he didn’t,” Licea said. “So he grabbed the steering wheel and the guy just drove off.”
Police said Florez clung to the side of the vehicle as it turned north onto Harlem Avenue, but was thrown into the southbound lanes of Harlem near Fillmore Street.
Florez died of injuries he suffered while falling from the side of the moving vehicle, police said.
He was transported to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood and was pronounced dead about three hours later, according to Oak Park police.
“He wasn’t supposed to go like this,” Licea said. “He was living with me. We were going to get married, have kids.”
Florez had just started a new job in Westmont and had recently been hailed as a hero for stepping in to save a woman from a man who was allegedly beating her up. He had just been called to testify in that case.
“He’s a good guy, a great guy,” Licea said. “He didn’t deserve this. Didn’t deserve this at all.”
Police said a person of interest was being held for questioning as of Monday morning and the stolen vehicle was recovered.
Witnesses described the carjacker as a man between 30 and 40 years old with a thin build and short braids who was wearing a dark sweater.
“If they keep doing this and they don’t care who dies or who doesn’t, then they’re not human,” Licea said.
Anyone with information is being asked to call (708) 386-3800.