Woman killed in Austin mass shooting mourned: ‘She always wanted to help people’

Relatives and friends release balloons to honor Terry’a Adams, 25, who was looking forward to going to school to become a nurse in August.

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Hundreds of family and friends gather for a balloon release in Austin in honor of Terry’a Adams. The medical assistant was set to start nursing school in August.

Emmanuel Camarillo/Sun-Times

Terry’a Adams had a genuine passion for helping others, her family said.

The 25-year-old worked as a medical assistant and team lead at an Erie Family Health Centers clinic, but she was set to begin nursing school in August and was looking forward to pursuing that dream.

“She always looked out for anybody that she came in contact with,” said her sister Shameka McBride. “It was just the care that she had for people in general, she always wanted to help people.”

Adams’ dream was taken from her Sunday when she was fatally wounded in a mass shooting in the Austin neighborhood where she grew up.

Dozens of her friends and family gathered near the scene Monday to release pink and white balloons in Adams’ memory, describing her as someone who got along with everyone and who strived to be better every day.

“She was very vibrant, she was young, she was career-driven,” McBride said. “Terry’a was everything, she had her whole life ahead of her.”

The shooting happened around 1 a.m. in the 4800 block of West Iowa Street, near Cicero Avenue, when a fight broke out among people gathered to remember Adams’ boyfriend, who was killed in a car crash four years ago, according to family and Chicago police.

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Terry’a Adams

Provided

Officers responding to the scene found Adams on the ground unresponsive, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her death was ruled a homicide by a gunshot wound to her head.

Six other people were also shot, including a 17-year-old girl who was struck in the leg.

During a Monday news conference at police headquarters, Chicago Police Supt. Fred Waller provided an update on the shooting: “No one else has died.”

Waller noted that video of the shooting shows a familiar series of events:

“Somebody just fires aimlessly into a crowd and hits several people. There could’ve been more shooters than just one, but looking at that video we did see at least one shooter.”

Despite the mass shooting, Waller said the Police Department isn’t discouraging large outdoor gatherings during the summer.

“We grieve for the mother and that family of the female who did pass from the shooting,” he said.

Family said the incident was sparked by people who weren’t invited to the gathering but showed up anyway. Adams’ sister hopes those responsible are swiftly apprehended.

“I really wish that whoever did it, they are caught so they can be penalized for this because they really took somebody special off this earth,” McBride said. “I know everything is in God’s hands, but I really think she was cheated out of her life.”

McBride said her sister had a smile that was wide and infectious. Adams was constantly looking to impart joy onto others.

“She had a smile where you could see all of her teeth, her smile would brighten up a room,” McBride said. “She always had jokes, always wanted to make you laugh. We’re going to miss everything about her.”

Adams’ grandmother, Pearlie Dyes, said the family has received an outpouring of support from her granddaughter’s friends and co-workers, demonstrating the impact she had on people.

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Terry’a Adams’ sister described her as having a wide, infectious smile who looked to impart joy on others. “She always had jokes, always wanted to make you laugh.”

Emmanuel Camarillo/Sun-Times

“She got along with everybody. She could mingle with anybody,” Dyes said. “At Erie, the doctors they all really loved her.”

Erie Family Health Centers posted a message on Facebook mourning Adams, saying she was beloved across the organization.

“Her bright light radiated through her beautiful smile, and her sense of humor cheered up every room,” the message reads. “Our Erie family is heartbroken and sends our deepest condolences to Terry’a’s family and friends.”

Adams called her close group of friends at the health center the “Cheetah Girls” because of the brightly colored red hair they shared, according to Emi, one of her co-workers and a fellow “Cheetah Girl.”

“She never left me out, she was always there for me, and I never had a true friend like that,” said Emi, who declined to give her last name. “It’s just really hard that a person like her had to get taken away like this. She didn’t deserve that.”

Contributing: Tom Schuba

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