Family and Community Members Pay Tribute to Late Police Officer Areanah Preston on Her ‘Heavenly’ 25th Birthday

More than 100 loved ones and community members released balloons of various colors and shapes into the backyard of a Calumet Heights elementary school to celebrate the ‘heavenly’ birthday of late Chicago police officer Areanah Preston, who would have turned 25 on Wednesday.

The celebration took place at Robert A. Black Magnet Elementary School, of which Preston was an alumnus. During the rally, there was a group prayer, song, and release of balloons and butterflies around 6:30 p.m. The windy air swirled around the golden star balloons and the “2” and “5” balloons while creating difficulties. so that the butterflies that have just emerged remain in flight. Preston’s family was joined by everyone in attendance to sing happy birthday. A birthday cake, which had a picture of Preston donning a graduation cap and gown, read ‘Happy 25th Birthday Celestial Areanah’.

“Aré, we love you,” said Dionne Mhoon, Preston’s mother. “We miss you, and like mom always says, ‘I got it from here.’ You know what I mean, I got it from here.

The rally was also an awareness and fundraising effort for Peace for Preston, a foundation set up by Preston’s family the day after his death. Shirts and buttons were on sale with Preston’s name and face. The foundation’s goal is to raise enough money to start a community center for young people on the south side.

On May 6, Preston was fatally shot when three assailants jumped out of a sedan and ran towards Preston as she walked from her car to her home in Avalon Park after an overnight shift, county prosecutors say. by Cook. Video footage cited by prosecutors shows a muzzle flash and Preston falling to the ground.

Four teenagers arrested two days after the fatal shooting are being held without bail. Prosecutors charged them with murder and several other crimes, including robbery and arson, alleging the group had already embarked on a series of violent crimes. Their next court appearance is scheduled for June 15.

Preston was wearing her police uniform when she was attacked. The Chicago Police Department has ruled his murder a death in the line of duty, a decision that will entitle his family to greater financial support.

Those who knew her remember her as a hardworking woman, a gentle person and a humble yet sophisticated soul with a bright future ahead of her.

Mhoon said Preston was the eldest of her three daughters. Her other two daughters are twins, Amira and Amiyah Preston, 23. She is also a stepmother to three daughters through her marriage to husband of 10 years and partner of 17, Terrance Mhoon, who said the family have lived in Avalon Park for nearly 10 years. .

Her mum said the support from the community has been ‘awesome’ and added that she and her family can put a lot of their time and effort into making the new community center a reality thanks to the people around them. .

“Everyone thinks their child is special,” Mhoon said. “Everyone. It’s just amazing, my little child, others thought she was special. It’s overwhelming at times, but I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for that and we’re moving forward to full speed in his name.

Preston was about to earn a master’s degree in child and family law from Loyola University Chicago and had previously studied criminal justice and law enforcement administration at Illinois State University. as a first cycle.

The young officer, who had only been with the department for three years, was posted to the Calumet District post on the Far South Side. An ISU professor who knew Preston as an undergraduate said she was “passionate about making a difference” and doing it “on the ground” in Chicago.

Preston’s academic interests and passions reflected this even early in school, as she participated in a variety of field trips, panels, and classes on topics ranging from restorative justice and trauma in incarcerated populations to diversity in law enforcement and police brutality.

sahmad@chicagotribune.com

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