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Whiting teen shot in head pronounced dead; case remains under investigation

Whiting teen shot in head pronounced dead; case remains under investigation

From the ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week series
Jacob Zavala

Jacob Zavala

WHITING — A teenage boy who was shot in the head Saturday was pronounced dead late Tuesday, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.

His family remembers him as an active young man who was a sophomore at Whiting High School. 

Jacob Zavala, 16, of Whiting, was declared dead about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. Javier Zavala, his father, said his son will be greatly missed by family and friends. 

"Everyone is taking it hard," Javier Zavala said. "He is going to be very missed. We love him and we are all just sad this happened to him."

His father said the teen enjoyed playing sports, particularly football and baseball, and loved playing video games with his friends. 

"He was very active and very happy, and also stubborn," Javier Zavala said. "He was a very curious person, just curious with life itself."

The cause and manner of Jacob Zavala's death were pending further investigation as of Wednesday evening. He was an organ donor, according to the medical examiner's office.

Whiting Police Chief Don Greer said Tuesday he was not able to disclose additional details about last week's shooting.

"It is under investigation right now. That is about all I can say," Greer said.

Greer did not respond to requests for comment on whether the death is being investigated as a homicide or if it was accidental.

Javier Zavala said the family is waiting to hear the findings of the police investigation.

Whiting police found the teen with a gunshot wound to the head about 9:10 p.m. Saturday in the 1300 block of West Fred Street. He was transported to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and later moved to the University of Chicago Medical Center, Greer said.

Javier Zavala said the GoFundMe page called "Hope for Jacob Zavala" was started by his sister-in-law to help the family pay medical costs and remains open to those who wish to donate for the teen's services, which will be held next week among family and friends. 

Anyone with more information is urged to call Detective Lt. Jeff Allard at 219-659-2186.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts and investigative news. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology. 219-933-4194,

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