CPS teacher victim of drive-by shooting

June 2, 2008 8:41:40 PM PDT
A special education teacher with the Chicago public school system is the apparent victim of gun violence over the weekend.Erika Prince, 32, taught at Dixon Elementary School at 8306 S. St. Lawrence.

The principal of the school says Prince was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting. She was discovered in her car early Sunday morning in the 8700-block of South Euclid.

So often it seems there's talk of another Chicago Public Schools student who has been shot. This time, though, it's a teacher, and a special one to Dixon Elementary.

Prince had a daughter in the fourth grade there. Her desk sits empty, and hearts there are full of grief over the loss.

"She was so graceful and she loved her job. She loves what she does, and she really inspired the kids," said teacher's assistant Iris Freeman.

"She was a hard worker, a team player. In fact, one of my students this morning, a parent had come to pick him up, because he was just with her Saturday, helping her put a cabinet up in her home," said Sharon Dale, Dixon principal.

Prince taught there for five years. She herself had graduated from the school and was very involved. She sponsored two after-school clubs, the hip-hop club and the honor society.

Saturday night, she drove her daughter to her grandparents' house to pick up clothes. As Prince sat outside waiting in her brand-new Dodge Charger, police say, someone drove by and shot her several times. DeMarco Hughes is the father of their two children and says it had to be a case of mistaken identity.

"She was a great person. No enemies, you know, she went to church, a teacher. She lived for kids, to help the community and others. That's all she did," he said.

Students at Dixon were given a letter to take home to parents informing them of the tragedy. Crisis counselors were on hand for students and colleagues.

"She loved what she did. The children loved her. The teachers, the staff loved her, the parents loved her. And we will miss her greatly," said Florine Freeman, special education assistant.

Many staff members were at the hospital, and just two rooms down from her was a former student of Dixon Elementary, a 19-year-old. He, too, had been shot over the weekend in a separate incident. He should recover.

The Reverend Charles Dates of Salem Baptist Church, where Prince sang in the choir for the past ten years, says she led a prayer group, and Sunday night those people were praying for her.

"She was so well loved, at the hospital there were 50 to 60 people in the waiting room and I was told that many more who had come to see her," said Dates.

Police say they know no motive for the shooting.


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