1 year after woman killed by stray bullet, family searches for witnesses

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One year after a young woman was killed by a stray bullet in Pilsen, investigators said they do not have enough evidence to put the suspected killer behind bars. (WLS)

One year after a young woman was killed by a stray bullet in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, investigators said they do not have enough evidence to put the suspected killer behind bars.

California native Aaren O'Connor moved to Chicago to start a new life with her boyfriend after the pair met studying abroad in Japan while O'Connor was a student at the University of San Diego. The 25-year-old chose to live in Pilsen, a neighborhood she thought was safe.

"When she told us she was moving to Pilsen, we were fearful for her and she said, 'no I looked into it that part of the city looks ok,' and she was excited to be part of the Chicago community," said Sarah Moen, O'Connor's coworker.

That coworker's fears came true when O'Connor was sitting in her car at West 21st Place and South Damen Avenue and was killed by a stray bullet. O'Connor was talking on the phone with her family in San Diego when she was shot. The shooting happened a year ago, and police said they know who fired the shots, but do not have enough evidence to charge him.

"In order to get this case closed, we need help from the community," said Lt. Ozzie Valdez of the Chicago Police Department.

Police said they need more witnesses. Detectives believe a documented gang member fired three shots at rival gang members and O'Connor was caught in the cross fire. Her boyfriend, Carlos Sorto, has spent the last year doing community service in Pilsen, looking for answers about O'Connor's death.

"I joined the Citizens Police Academy to learn more about helping police officers," said Sorto.

Sorto said he also learned that some Pilsen residents are too fearful to get involved in a case that doesn't affect them. O'Connor's family and friends still hope someone will come forward.

"It's frustrating to know police have done everything in their power, they just can't take that last step without that little bit of help," Moen said.

Family and friends held a memorial service in San Diego Tuesday and visited O'Connor's grave site.

During the past year, O'Connor's coworkers and friends set up a scholarship that provides tuition assistance for students who plan to study the same international program that O'Connor and her boyfriend attended.

Related Topics:
chicago shootingPilsenHeart of Chicago
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