CHICAGO — A somber ceremony took place Wednesday afternoon at the Gold Star Families Memorial. The names of each fallen Chicago police officer were read, and officer Aréanah Preston became the 600th name added to the memorial wall.
“Aréanah Preston is a star amongst the stars,” said Maria Marmalejo, chairwoman of the Gold Star Families Foundation. “[She] will shine bright for the young woman she was, the life she lived and the sacrifice she made to protect the City of Chicago.”
A special memorial was held for Preston just hours before the 20th annual candlelight vigil, a ceremony where the Chicago Police Department honors all CPD officers who have died in the line of duty, reading each of their names aloud.
Preston’s mother unveiled her name on the memorial wall, four months to the day the two-and-a-half-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department was killed.
Preston was returning to her Avalon Park home from her shift in the CPD’s Fifth District in the early morning hours of May 6, when a group of people shot and killed her during an attempted robbery.
Four people have been charged in the murder of Preston. Police said the group went on a violent crime spree that night before targeting her.
“When evil came knocking, she stood tall and tried to make a difference,” said Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, of Preston’s actions the night of her death.
According to those who knew her, Preston is remembered as being bold, brave and determined. At the time of her death, she was just days away from graduating with a master’s in law from Loyola University Chicago, in hopes of one day joining the FBI to further a career investigating sex crimes.
“She will never, ever be forgotten,” said First Deputy CPD Superintendent William Bradley.