Pillar of Pilsen community killed over the weekend

Ulises Almaraz. Courtesy CPD.
Ulises Almaraz. Courtesy CPD.

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]eighbors are still reeling after a gruesome murder ended the life a pillar of the Pilsen community.

Rodolfo “Rudy” Avina owned Creativo Framing, 750 N. Franklin St. He was well-known and liked by his neighbors in Pilsen and, as a professional framer, the city’s art community as well.

Avina’s skill as a framer meant that his work could be seen around Chicago. And in Pilsen, Avina framed nearly all of the art on display at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St.

“Even though Rudy was not a staff member, he was a valued part of our team for over 20 years,” said Raquel Aguiñaga-Martinez, the visual arts associate director at the museum. “He was one of the few people in Pilsen who understood all the love and work it takes to put up an exhibition. He knew of the challenges and sometimes personal sacrifices that this kind of job requires.”

She added that Avina was one of the few non-staff members that she fully trusted when it came to caring for the museum’s permanent collection.

On Sunday, Berwyn resident Ulises Almaraz was denied bond by a judge after being charged with one count of first-degree murder in the stabbing death Avina.

Almaraz had gone to Simone’s Bar, 960 W. 18th St., on Saturday night with a woman, said Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Cooper. Prosecutors allege the woman Almaraz arrived with stood at the bar and talked to Avina, who also knew the woman and was seated to her left. Almaraz stood behind them, reportedly pacing around the establishment before walking up to the woman as she hugged Avina, said prosecutors.

Murder3_Rodolfo “Rudy” Avina framing art at the National Museum of Mexican Art._Courtesy NMMA
Rodolfo “Rudy” Avina framing art at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Courtesy NMMA.

Around 12:30 a.m. Almaraz allegedly grabbed hold of Avina from behind and used a knife to slit his throat before tackling him to the floor and stabbing him in the chest, said prosecutors.

The woman reportedly managed to pull Almaraz away from Avina, who held a bloody knife in his hand, and flagged over a security guard. The guard detained Almaraz until police arrived, said prosecutors.

Surveillance video captured the entire attack, said Cooper. Almaraz reportedly told the arresting officers that he attacked Avina because “he was talking to the defendant’s girl,” Cooper said. Almaraz’s attorney said his client is diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and had stopped taking prescribed medication the night of the murder.

A memorial service for Avina is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Citlalin Gallery 2005 S. Blue Island Ave. At press time, a gofundme.com page set up to help donate money to Avina’s wife and three children had raised $7,295 in 16 hours.

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