CHICAGO (CBS) — Claims that a convicted gang-member was “turning his life around” when he was killed are nothing new on Chicago’s streets.

But Jose Escobar’s family said his recent decision to black-out his Latin King gang tattoos showed he was serious about making a change.

Gunned down early Sunday morning as he stood in line with a pal outside a 24-hour hot dog stand in Bridgeport, Escobar, 25, could not get out of the gang world fast enough.

“He got the tattoos covered up about seven months ago,” his girlfriend Andrea Gonzalez said. “He didn’t have anywhere to live and he knew he needed a change of life.”

Escobar — who’d recently lost a job as a dishwasher at Gino’s East — was with a pal, waiting on an order of a pizza puff and fries outside Johnny O’s Hot Dogs stand at 35th and Morgan, when two members of a rival gang approached and opened fire around 5:20 a.m., police said. Escobar, who has yet to be formally identified by authorities but was named as the victim by relatives, was fatally shot in the head.

His 35-year-old friend suffered gunshot wounds to the shoulder, back and buttocks, according to police spokesman John Mirabelli. That victim is at Stroger Hospital and is expected to survive but is paralyzed, Escobar’s family said as they mourned at the murder scene Sunday afternoon.

Escobar’s older brother, David Sailor, said Escobar got out of jail about a year ago for “a stupid robbery.” Like Sailor, Escobar had recently covered up a crown tattoo symbolizing his prior allegiance to the Latin Kings, Sailor said.

“He had his problems but he was trying to change and have a different lifestyle,” Sailor said. “He was a good person.”

Police had no one in custody Sunday.

Sun-Times via Sun-Times Media Wire

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