Chicago police shooting: 4 charged with murder of Officer Areanah Preston

ByChuck Goudie, Michelle Gallardo, Liz Nagy, and Christian Piekos, Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Thursday, May 11, 2023
Details of slain CPD officer's fatal encounter revealed in court
Charges against four teenagers in the fatal shooting of Officer Areanah Preston were announced Wednesday morning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Charges against four teenagers in the fatal shooting of Officer Areanah Preston were announced by Chicago Police Interim Superintendent Eric Carter Wednesday morning.

Interim Superintendent Carter said the teens -- 19-year-old Trevor Breeland, 19-year-old Joseph Brooks, 18-year-old Jakwon Buchanan and 16-year-old Jaylan Frazier who is being charged as an adult - are charged with first degree murder as well as multiple counts of armed robbery, arson, burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and unlawful use of a weapon.

"I stand before you guys today as a mother. A heartbroken mother," said Dionne Mhoon, Preston's mother, after court Wednesday. "A mother that's full of anger, rage, questions why."

WATCH: Mother of slain Chicago police officer speaks out

The mother of a CPD officer who was shot and killed spoke out Wednesday.

The accused killers were part of a five or six-person crew that accosted officer Preston after she was just off duty early Saturday. Police said despite their young ages they have extensive criminal records, including carjacking and robbery.

Carter said the suspects were out looking for victims late Friday night and Saturday morning and are suspected of multiple robberies and a car theft earlier that morning.

CPD Interim Superintendent Carter announces murder charges in officer's death

Chicago Police Superintendent Eric Carter announces murder charges against four teens in the death of Officer Areanah Preston.

The four suspects pulled up in a stolen vehicle as Officer Preston returned to her home in Avalon Park and ran toward her while armed, Carter said.

Exclusive video shows moments before CPD officer killed; 4 in custody for shooting, sources say

One of the suspects opened fire at Preston, who returned fire. One of the suspects stole Officer Preston's gun before they fled in a stolen vehicle.

Prosecutors said she was shot both in the face and the neck, and they said Brooks has admitted to firing first.

A Shotspotter alert went out at 1:42 a.m., the time Preston was shot, but court documents said police didn't immediately respond due to a "backlog in the district."

Surveillance video shows officers responding just after 2 a.m., when records say Preston's Apple Watch alerted that she'd been involved in a car crash at that location. As police rushed their colleague to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead, and in the hours afterward, investigators said the four suspects torched the stolen car, sold Officer Preston's gun, and the youngest of the team called a friend to brag about their exploits.

"In that call, defendant Frazier asked the friend if he had seen the news about the police officer being killed. Defendant Frazier said it was his work," Assistant State's Attorney Anne McCord.

Prosecutors said the friend then went straight to police.

"The friend pulled out his phone, called defendant Frazier, on speakerphone, and talked to him in front of detectives. During the phone call, defendant Frazier made additional admissions to the robbery and shooting including details that had not been released," McCord said.

The unintentional confession was just part of what prosecutors say was a large volume of evidence collected by investigators that included, pod camera video, cell phone data, ballistics and DNA evidence, as well as the cooperation of two women who accompanied the defendants on a two hour long crime spree that preceded the murder.

"As crazy as it may sound, I pray for their family. Any time you shoot someone and say that's my work. What kind of human would say that about another human being?" Mhoon said.

Prosecutors said the youngest suspect's mother helped turn her teenage son into police at the same police district where Officer Preston served.

Law enforcement sources tell told I-Team that two participants in the attack, both women, have cooperated with investigators and are offering testimony to a grand jury considering indictments in the case.

One of the women now acting as a witness apparently came to police attention when authorities attempted to tow her car from the crime scene and she became agitated. That woman was an early subject of the investigation and is said to have helped lead detectives to the others.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement after the charges were announced, saying in part, "I want to commend the Chicago Police Department and the hardworking detectives for working swiftly to apprehend and bring to justice the four individuals responsible for the heinous murder of Police Officer Aréanah M. Preston. Their diligent efforts have removed violent, repeat offenders from our streets."

CPD Commander Tyrone Pendarvis became emotional at the press conference talking about Officer Preston.

"Her last arrest that evening, even the arrestee once finding out the news of what had happened, she wept " CPD Commander Tyrone Pendarvis said. "But that speaks to the credit of Officer Preston because she connected with everyone. She was empathetic to everyone's problems regardless of what role they were in."

Preston was just days away from graduating from Loyola University with her Master's degree.

Her funeral plans are still being put together.

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