Young father shot to death day before daughter's birthday party

Tribune reporter

Miguel Cancel planned to celebrate his daughter’s second birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s on Sunday. The party was called off after the young father was shot and killed early Saturday in the Old Irving Park neighborhood.

Cancel, 19, and two others were shot in the 4200 block of West Irving Park Road on the Northwest Side while waiting at a stoplight at 2:40 a.m. Saturday, police said. The other two victims in the shooting, which police said appeared gang-related, survived.

Cancel’s grandmother, Mirna Resto, said she believes it was a case of mistaken identity.

The Taft High School senior was on track to graduate this June, Resto said, and hoped to either attend college or join the Army. Cancel, of the 5100 block of North Parkside Avenue, and Resto were going to move to Florida after he received his diploma.

“I wanted to get him out of this city because this city is bad for kids growing up,” the grandmother said. “You can’t wear a hat. You can’t wear nothing. They think everybody’s a gangbanger.”

Alex Perez, a family friend and the dean of students at Amundsen High School, which Cancel attended for three years, said the young father was a “ladies’ man” with an “uncontrollable smile” who was polite to teachers and popular with his peers.

“Average kid with his grades and everything,” Perez said, “but (he) never gave us any problems. It’s just crazy to lose him the way that we did.”

Since his daughter was born two years ago, Resto said her grandson had a new purpose. Often on the weekends, she said Cancel and his daughter would go to the park and “play like two kids.”

The teen also liked to hang out with friends and party, Resto said. He was on his way to a nightclub early Saturday when he was shot.

Resto insists that her grandson wasn’t involved in gangs. He wanted to make something of himself and help raise his daughter, she said. It was his idea to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“He was so excited about this party today,” Resto said. “I can’t have it without him.”

Tribune reporters Rachael Levy and Peter Nickeas contributed.

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