Family Gives Emotional Speech at Funeral for Chicago Officer Aréanah Preston – NBC Chicago

The mother of fallen Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston had a message for her daughter as she spoke at her funeral Wednesday.

“Rest peacefully, my sweet baby. Momma has it from here,” Dionne Mhoon said at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood, surrounded by dozens of Preston’s fellow officers and city officials who gathered to honor the young woman whose life was cut short.

Preston’s family took the stage together to give emotional speeches at the packed church as they said their final goodbyes to the 24-year-old shot and killed near her Avalon Park home in a robbery earlier this month.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving us this angel loaning us this angel,” Mhoon said as she began.

She went on to thank the Chicago Police Department, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others for their support following her daughter’s tragic death.

“Confident, determined, brave, smart, outgoing, beautiful, witty, loyal, generous, genuine, quaint, attentive, funny, giving, youthful, fashionable, unforgettable and a ray of light – a few words to describe my baby,” she said. “Yet there will never be enough to define just how much of a sunflower Aréanah Mikayla Preston truly was to us as parents and family, and now, the world.

“I may not know much about politics, forensic sciences, or the court systems, but they are a few things I do know about,” she continued. “I know what it means to have a heartbroken family. I know the sounds of my daughters scream for their sister. I know the prayers of my husband and the tears he holds in his eyes. So, I know the feeling of a grandfather opening an envelope that was supposed to be mailed for graduation and instead he’s here for a funeral. I know the sound of her brother being hurt … Her uncle being nothing but silent through it all, but praying. I know the sounds of her cousins going in the other rooms, opening the door so we don’t see them cry. I know what it means as a parent to always be the driving force to see your children and other children that I have poured into, however, my heart as a mother is heavy.”

Mhoon said she can feel her daughter’s spirit telling her to “keep going.”

“Death is only a tragic thing if you have not lived. My baby lived,” she said.

Mhoon’s speech was followed by Preston’s younger sister, who recalled her final conversation before Preston’s death.

“The last conversation we had, I posted your graduation pictures and you told me you loved me. I told you to tell the world,” she recalled. “My exact words were ‘Don’t tell me, tell them.’ So here I am telling everyone that, we love you Nani. You were an amazing big sister, my best friend. You have set an incredible example for us.”

Preston’s funeral comes nearly two weeks after her killing as she returned home from a late-night shift, still in uniform.

According to authorities, Preston at 1:40 a.m. on May 6 was found with gunshot wounds near her home in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue by a fellow officer who was responding to a report of a traffic crash. She was rushed from a squad car to the University of Chicago Medical Center where she succumbed to her wounds, officials said.

“She was brave and she was strong,” fellow officer Monica Akins said Tuesday during a visitation service at the Blake Lamb funeral home in suburban Oak Lawn. “She serves as an inspiration for all of us, and it reminds us of the oath that we took — to serve and protect, and that’s what she did for the community.”

“She was an officer’s officer,” Akins continued.

Four teens have been charged with first-degree murder and a slew of other felonies in connection with Preston’s killing, which has been ruled a “line-of-duty” death by the Chicago Police Department.

Trevell Breeland and Joseph Brooks, both 19; Jakwon Buchanan, 18; and a 16-year-old, who will be charged as an adult, all face first-degree murder charges in the fatal shooting, along with additional charges for armed robbery, arson, burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and unlawful use of a weapon, authorities said.

“These individuals went out looking for victims in the overnight hours of Friday into Saturday morning and are connected to multiple robberies and a motor vehicle theft earlier that morning,” said Eric Carter, who was serving as interim Chicago Police Superintendent at the time of the incident.

In an initial description of the incident, police said the teens got out of a vehicle and ran towards the officer, with at least one person firing a gunshot. Preston returned fire and was shot before one of the teens then took her gun and fled the scene, police said.

The four teens are currently being held without bond.

According to officials, Preston, 24, had been with the department for three years and worked in the city’s West Roseland neighborhood.

According to family members, Preston was set to graduate with a Master’s Degree from Loyola University this month, and participate in the commencement ceremony. Instead, her mother accepted her degree posthumously.

“As a mother with faith, I know for sure better days are coming here and better days are coming ahead because I gave my baby everything I had and then saw,” Mhoon said as she remembered her daughter Wednesday. “I was determined to invest in her so that in return she invested in the world. And Aréanah did just that. She did more than I can even imagine. When people say you did an awesome job as a mother, that speaks volumes to me. It is so heartwarming to see just the impact she had on the city of Chicago and beyond. She was a kid full of life, dreams, big goals, and wanted to make major changes and this tragic situation.”

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