The man shot six times outside a Brookfield apartment building in September has told the Landmark that he’s forgiven his stepdaughter for her alleged role in what police are calling a planned hit.
“She messed up,” says Joe Lungaro, who said that his family has not returned to Brookfield since the shooting for fear of being targeted again. “But I love her to death. For her to pull something off like this, she had to be coerced into it.”
Lungaro says he doesn’t plan on pressing charges against his stepdaughter, who remains in custody at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, charged with first-degree attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.
“I told her, ‘I forgive you.’ But I told her straight up, ‘You shot the wrong person, because I ended up living.'”
Lungaro, 41, was shot in the chest, back, leg and arm with a .38-caliber handgun from point-blank range.
“They felt like bee stings until I got shot in the leg,” Lungaro says.
Bullets narrowly missed hitting his heart and spinal column, he said. Lungaro spent six days in the hospital. He’s still in a lot of pain and walks with a walker or a cane. He says he still has some trouble breathing.
It wasn’t until Jan. 27, the day a 16-year-old boy involved in the shooting went to trial, that Lungaro said he learned the truth about the plan. The teenager, who had been charged with attempted murder, was found guilty and will remain in custody until his 17th birthday in November, according to police.
The day of the trial, Lungaro’s stepdaughter broke down, according to Lungaro, and confessed that the shooting was part of a set-up that also targeted another person: a teen who was seeing her.
The teen convicted for his role in the shooting had a relationship with Lungaro’s stepdaughter, but it had soured. Lungaro did not like the young man and had confronted him in the past, telling him to stay away from his daughter.
In the meantime, Lungaro’s stepdaughter started seeing another boy. Lungaro said he learned that this boy was to come to the Lungaro’s apartment building at 4501 Park Ave. at 10 p.m. on Sept. 8 and knock on the window.
“I was supposed to hear the gunshots and go outside and then they’d gun me down,” Lungaro said. “I shot all their plans down by going outside to smoke a cigarette.
“I saved his life.”
Lungaro said he went outside and crossed Gerritsen Avenue just before 9:30 p.m., smoking a cigarette while standing in Jaycee/Ehlert Park. Fifteen minutes later, he said, he saw his stepdaughter’s former boyfriend approach the apartment building. He walked across the street, grabbed the boy by the back of his shirt and said he was going to call the police to swear out an order of protection.
At that time, Lungaro saw two other people run out into the street toward him. One of them pulled out a gun and began firing.
“I fell to the ground,” Lungaro said. “I felt them put the gun to my head and kick me. I pretended I was dead.”
After hearing his attackers run away, Lungaro dragged himself into the lobby of his apartment building, where he was found by family members.
Lungaro identified his stepdaughter’s ex-boyfriend as one of his attackers, and police arrested him later that night at his home in Hodgkins. The two people who were with him, including the gunman, remain at large.
Brookfield police had been stymied in their efforts to solve the case, in part because Lungaro’s stepdaughter reportedly provided misleading information and obscured her role.
“It was like a cancer. It was eating at her from the inside out,” Lungaro said of his stepdaughter’s five-month cover up. “She was running out of avenues.”
Lungaro said he and his family are cooperating with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case.