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updated: 2/15/2017 5:30 PM

Teen denied bail in Palatine 'mistaken identity' shooting

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  • Giovanny Unzueta

    Giovanny Unzueta

  • A Palatine police officer photographs crime scene evidence outside a store at 1555 N. Rand Road in Palatine on Feb. 7.

      A Palatine police officer photographs crime scene evidence outside a store at 1555 N. Rand Road in Palatine on Feb. 7.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer


A Palatine teen who Palatine police say shot another teen in the face last week in a case of mistaken identity is being held without bail.

The teen almost suffocated at the scene and initially was in critical condition but has since been released from the hospital with a metal plate in his face, authorities said.

Giovanny Unzueta, 17, of the 1200 block of East Inverrary Lane, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in connection with the shooting of a 19-year-old man in the parking lot of a Palatine store, police said in a news release Wednesday.

Cook County circuit court Judge Joseph Cataldo denied Unzueta bail Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 3 at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows.

Unzueta shot from a car, hitting the Chicago man about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the parking lot outside the store at 1555 N. Rand Road, authorities said. Cmdr. Craig Lesselyoung said Unzueta shouted gang slurs after the shooting.

The victim, who was in Palatine helping a cousin move, is not affiliated with a gang, police said. He was standing by a car, smoking a cigarette, while his cousin finished shopping inside the store, prosecutors said.

The victim was conscious when first responders found him and rushed him to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. He was in critical condition for several days after undergoing surgery, police said.

At one point during the victim's initial treatment, he was suffocating on his own blood from a severed artery in his mouth and an emergency tracheotomy had to be performed, prosecutors said.

There were bone and bullet fragments embedded in the victim's jaw that could not be removed during surgery, and ultimately a permanent metal plate was inserted in his face, they said.

Detectives used video surveillance and interviewed witnesses, including other customers at the store, to identify a suspect, police said. The victim identified Unzueta from a photograph Monday and the arrest was made Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Lesselyoung said the investigation continues and their detectives are looking to confirm that Unzueta is the only one who will be charged.

Anyone with more information is asked to call Palatine Police at (847) 359-9000 or Palatine-Inverness Crime Stoppers at (847) 590-7867.

• Daily Herald staff writers Doug T. Graham and Eric Peterson contributed to this report.

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