Police continue search for gunman who killed off-duty officer on South Side

It’s still unclear why police took more than 30 minutes to respond to the wounded officer, Areanah Preston, after gunshots were detected by the city’s gunshot surveillance system, ShotSpotter.

SHARE Police continue search for gunman who killed off-duty officer on South Side
Family members and mourners gather in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue hours after an off-duty Chicago police officer was shot to death while returning to her South Side home Saturday.

Family members and mourners gather in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue hours after an off-duty Chicago police officer was shot to death while returning to her South Side home early Saturday.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

The Chicago police continued their hunt Sunday for the gunman who killed off-duty Officer Areanah Preston as she returned home early Saturday to her South Side home after work, but it’s unclear why the police took more than 30 minutes Saturday morning to arrive after gunshots were detected by the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot surveillance system.

Police say Preston, 24, was shot to death around 1:42 a.m. during a robbery as she showed up at her home in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue in Avalon Park.

But the first notification of a person shot came more than half an hour later, at 2:15 a.m., according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. The fire department was alerted that someone had been shot when a police officer arrived and radioed that an off-duty officer had been shot, Langford said.

Officer Areanah Preston, who was shot and killed outside her Avalon Park home early Saturday.

Officer Areanah Preston was shot and killed outside her Avalon Park home early Saturday.

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Less than a minute later, an ambulance and a paramedic-staffed fire engine were dispatched to the scene, Langford said. They were both rolling less than a minute after that, he said.

But when the fire engine arrived at 2:23 a.m., the crew didn’t find anyone injured, Langford said. The police officer already had carried Preston to his squad car and rushed her to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she died.

The police haven’t released a timeline of when officers were first dispatched to the crime scene.

The police also haven’t released a description of the suspect or suspects in Preston’s killing.

Detectives were canvassing the neighborhood the day of the shooting, asking neighbors for doorbell-camera video for the investigation.

Preston worked for the Chicago Police Department for three years and was assigned to the Calumet District. She was pursuing a master’s degree in criminology from Loyola University Chicago and would have graduated May 13.

Preston’s killing will be considered a line-of-duty death by the department, entitling her family to additional benefits, Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara said Sunday.

An autopsy found that Preston died from multiple gunshot wounds, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said Sunday.

Preston’s aunt Norma Mhoon said in a Facebook video posted Sunday that it “weakens me to even think that she’s gone.”

“She’s a very good sweetheart,” Mhoon said. “A very nice person: educated, intelligent in every way, striving for her master’s, her goals and everything. She was just doing such a great job. And this happened to her. It’s unbelievable.”

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