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Fatally shot Chicago police officer and ISU grad Areanah Preston was 'dedicated to making a difference'

A young Black woman with straightened hair and a black shirt smiles at the camera
ISU graduate Areanah Preston worked as a patrol officer for the Chicago Police Department for three years. She was shot and killed Saturday near her home in the Avalon Park neighborhood.

Chicago police officer and recent Illinois State University alum Areanah Preston, 24, was shot and killed near her home in the South Side neighborhood of Avalon Park early Saturday morning as she was getting home from work.

According to reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times, Preston’s gun was taken during an apparent robbery. A gunshot-detection system registered nine shots fired in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue in Chicago at approximately 1:45 a.m. Saturday. An officer responded to a 911 call 30 minutes later and discovered Preston. According to police, the responding officer called for an ambulance; Preston was transported by police vehicle to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. No arrests have been made.

Preston was a 2020 graduate of Illinois State University, earning a degree in criminal justice. She worked for the Chicago Police Department for three years and was due to graduate May 13 from Loyola University Chicago with a master’s degree in criminology.

In an email to WGLT, Donna Selman, chair of the criminal justice sciences department at ISU, said the faculty and staff are “devastated” by the loss.

“Areanah was a standout student filled with passion and compassion,” said Selman. “She approached her work with a profound and deep commitment to improving the lives of those in her community. My faculty members describe Areanah as a real force for change and exactly the type of person you hope will enter law enforcement.”

In a statement released Saturday morning, Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said he is “outraged and devastated by this horrific violence against a public servant," adding he "will do everything I can to support her family and the Chicago Police Department through this traumatic time.”

Preston was a patrol officer who had her eyes set on moving through the ranks in the Chicago Police Department. In a University newsletter, she expressed dismay with the lack of diversity in law enforcement and aimed to build trust with disinvested communities.

A spokesperson from Illinois State University said Preston's death is "a tragic situation involving one of our recent alums and a devastating loss to the ISU community."

In a statement to the Sun-Times, ISU professor Charles Bell said Preston was “passionate about making a difference and showing young people that policing is a profession that can make a difference in the community.”

Preston is survived by her parents and twin sister. In a statement to the Sun-Times, Allen Preston described his daughter as a “beautiful soul” who “always saw the best in people.”

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Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.
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