Hundreds attend funeral of Chicago cop fatally shot during exchange of gunfire with youths

CHICAGO (AP) — Hundreds of people packed a church Wednesday for the funeral of a Chicago police officer who was off duty when she was fatally shot during an armed robbery spree by four teenagers charged in her death.

Officer Aréanah Preston's mother, Dionne Mhoon, told police officers, relatives and other mourners at Trinity United Church of Christ that her daughter was a “kid full of life, dreams, big goals and wanted to make major changes.”

“Death is only a tragic thing if you have not lived. My baby lived,” she said to applause. “I am because of her. I pray for peace in homes. I pray for peace in our communities, and I pray for peace in my heart. Rest peacefully, my sweet baby. Momma has it from here.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and interim Police Superintendent Fred Waller joined mourners outside the church as Preston’s white casket arrived in a hearse, draped in the city’s flag, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

After Wednesday's service, the hearse carried Preston's casket from the church in a lengthy funeral procession bound for Lincoln Cemetery, where a private service was planned.

Preston was fatally wounded early May 6 when she exchanged gunfire with a group of youths who approached her on the city’s South Side as she returned home from work, still wearing her police uniform, police said.

Four teenagers were charged last week in her killing and denied bail. Nineteen-year-olds Joseph Brooks and Trevell Breeland, Jakwon Buchanan, 18, and a 16-year-old boy face first-degree murder, armed robbery and other charges.

Though Preston was off-duty at the time she was shot, her slaying is being considered a line-of-duty death, which entitles her family to financial assistance from the state.