The fatal shooting of Ariana Preston, a 24-year-old female police officer, has sent shockwaves through the law enforcement community and beyond. The incident, which took place in the early hours of June 6th, has resulted in the arrest and charging of four teenagers with first-degree murder, armed robbery, arson, and illegal possession of weapons.
According to reports, Preston was returning home in uniform from night duty when she encountered a car in a southern Chicago residential area. One of the suspects got out of the car and attempted to steal her belongings. When she resisted, he shot her in the face and neck. Despite returning fire, Preston was fatally wounded. The suspects then took her gun and fled in the stolen car.
Preston’s colleagues responded to her smartwatch’s automatic distress signal and rushed her to the nearby University of Chicago Medical Center, but she ultimately succumbed to her injuries.
The suspects have been identified as Jeilan Fraser (16), Jeyquan Bucannon (18), Joseph Brooks (19), and Travell Briland (19). The police have announced that Fraser has been charged as an adult and all four are being held in custody without bail.
Chicago Interim Police Superintendent Eric Carter has speculated that the suspects may have stumbled upon Preston while looking for a robbery target. He has also noted that the car they used in the crime was reported stolen more than an hour before the incident and was likely the same vehicle they used in their previous crimes.
The incident has sparked outrage and calls for action amidst a surge of teenage gun crime in the United States. In 2020, gun deaths among young people in the US reached their highest level in almost two decades, with more than 4,000 deaths recorded. The shooting of Preston has renewed calls for stricter gun control measures and better resources for law enforcement.
Cook County prosecutors have revealed that Bucannon’s girlfriend told police that he needed money for a barbecue prior to the shooting. The prosecutors added, “The offenders continued to engage in robbery for money and sold the guns they took from Preston after killing her.”
One of the suspects, Briland, was reportedly arrested in January on charges of illegal possession of a weapon and received two years of probation and 50 hours of community service.
The shooting of Ariana Preston is a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers and the urgent need to address the issue of gun violence among young people in the United States. As the nation mourns her loss, many are calling for action to prevent such senseless acts of violence from happening again.