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Hero Down: Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston Murdered By Gunman Outside Her Home

Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Department (CPD) Officer Areanah Preston died in the line of duty on Saturday morning after she was fatally shot while returning home from work.

The 24-year-old officer was gunned down outside her home in the Avalon Park neighborhood after she finished up her shift in the early-morning hours of May 6.

The fatal attack on Officer Preston occurred in the 8011-block of South Blackstone Avenue at approximately 1:45 a.m., the Chicago Tribune reported.

Chicago police said they responded to the location on the city’s South Side after receiving “shot spotter” notifications.

The initial officer who arrived at the scene found Officer Preston suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Sources said the officer’s duty weapon was stolen after she was shot, according to WFLD.

The suspect fled the scene prior to officers’ arrival.

“Emergency! Emergency!” an officer said over the radio after finding the wounded officer, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Eighty-first and Blackstone – we got a person shot! It’s an off-duty po! Get an ambulance here now!”

“Squad, it’s not looking good — get an ambulance here now!” the officer added a moment later.

He ultimately rushed Officer Preston to University of Chicago Medicine on his own, WFLD reported.

“The officer picked her up, put her in the back of his car, and immediately brought her to U of C hospital where she succumbed to her injuries early this morning,” CPD Interim Police Superintendent Eric Carter confirmed.

The medical examiner’s office concluded on Sunday she died from multiple gunshot wounds and her death was ruled a homicide, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) said Officer Preston had just finished up her shift in the Calumet District when the fatal attack occurred.

She served the CPD for three years.

A motive for the deadly shooting has not been released.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said Officer Preston’s murder will be considered a line-of-duty death by the department, WFLD reported.

Police have apprehended four people in connection with the slaying.

A source with knowledge about the arrests said the four suspects were apprehended late Sunday night after a standoff with police at a residence located in the 7600-block of South Bishop Street in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The suspects, described as two females and two males, have not been formally charged, WLS reported.

Some of the suspects are juveniles, although it is unclear how many.

No other information has been released, WLS reported.

Officer Preston recently earned a Masters of Jurisprudence from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law and would have celebrated her graduation on May 13, according to WLS.

She also held a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and law enforcement administration from Illinois State University (ISU), the Chicago Tribune reported.

Her grandfather, whom she called “Pa Pa,” was preparing to travel to Chicago for the graduation festivities when he received word of his granddaughter’s murder.

“She was intelligent, a happy person… she was all of that and more,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “I can’t speak about her without breaking up.”

Former ISU professor and criminal justice scientist Charles Bell said Officer Preston was someone who understood “the intimate details about what is happening in the community, some of the challenges that are impacting policing and mass incarceration,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“She was very vocal about that and sharing it with the class and deeply passionate about making a difference,” Bell said. “If you’re interested in making a difference like Areanah was, you’re interested in learning where [crime] starts. And she was really interested in making a difference in the community, going back to Chicago, boots on the ground, helping people.”

The future Chicago cop decided during a two-week trip to Holocaust sites in Poland and Germany that she wanted to become a law enforcement officer, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The trip focused on studying genocide through a criminology lens, according to the paper.

“I know a big thing for our trip was finding voices for those who didn’t have a voice,” Officer Preston said during an interview in 2021, according to the Chicago Tribune. “When I got back, I wanted to be an officer. I felt like I could be a person to fight for justice.”

Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said he was devastated to learn of the young officer’s murder.

“I’m outraged and devastated by this horrific violence against a public servant, and I will do everything I can to support her family and the Chicago Police Department through this traumatic time,” Johnson said in a statement late Saturday morning, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I pray that her killer is apprehended quickly so that justice may be served.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chicago Police Department Officer Areanah Preston, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Officer Areanah Preston, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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