Days before Aréanah Preston was tragically murdered, she awaited a final interview in hopes of joining the FBI, revealed former Interim Police Supt. Eric Carter, who spoke at her funeral on Wednesday.
Carter, along with Preston’s family members and fellow officers, remembered the fallen officer as an energetic, hardworking and ambitious dynamo of a woman.
Preston’s mother, Dionne Mhoon, led off her remarks with descriptors about her daughter. She used words like confident, determined, brave, smart, witty, outgoing, loyal and generous to describe her 24-year-old daughter.
“And a ray of light,” Mhoon added.
By all accounts, Preston was remembered as a person who was small in stature but massive in heart, personality and presence. She could light up a room and deliver memorable hugs.
Preston was shot and killed earlier this month in front of her family home in Avalon Park, just as she returned from working a shift. Last week, Chicago police charged four teens with first-degree murder in her death.
Last Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, Preston was set to graduate from Loyola University Chicago with her Masters in Jurisprudence. Instead, her mother accepted her degree on her behalf.
The Scene Outside of Preston’s Funeral Service
Preston’s funeral occurred at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood on the Southside.
At the western entrance of the church, located on South Eggleston Avenue by 95th Street, the sound of helicopters could be heard overhead as hundreds waited for the procession to arrive and for her casket to be carried into the church. Even some residents from the neighborhood walked over – some dressed up and others in loungewear. Nevertheless, they came to pay their respects.
As the sound of bagpipes echoed from the distance, the masses of officers assembled up and down the street stood at attention in front of family members, friends and dignitaries who stood in front of the church.
Amid the solemnity and silence, the wails of a family member could be heard as pallbearers carried her casket, draped with the flag of Chicago, into the church.
Soon lines of people flowed into Trinity’s two main doors, and dozens of police officers went through a side entrance.
More officers stood outside to watch the service on a giant screen erected at the Eggleston Avenue entrance to Trinity’s parking lot.
Then, sounds of the funeral service were broadcast over loudspeakers as Pastor Otis Moss III, buoyed by a backing choir, uttered words of prayer over Preston’s family.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” said Moss, quoting 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“Even right now, her spirit lives, and she is in this place with us,” Moss said, referring to Preston. “We ask that you turn this homegoing service into a worship service.”
Then the choir sang Hezekiah Walker’s “Every Praise.”
‘My Baby Lived’
Whether it was Carter, 5th District Commander Tyrone M. Pendarvis, Mayor Brandon Johnson or former mayor Lori Lightfoot, all touched on the profound contribution Preston was able to make in her short life.
“Though her watch has ended, her dedication to justice and serving this city will live forever,” said Johnson. “I thank God for the gift of Aréanah Preston.”
Lightfoot referred to the fallen officer as the model for what the future of the Chicago Police Department should be.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Aréanah Preston is exactly the sort of person we want to recruit to our police department,” said the former mayor. “Aréanah Preston was the future of the police department, and we feel we have been robbed of that future today.”
Her fellow officers from the 5th District shared charming anecdotes about Preston that revealed her playful side. One colleague called her “the little sister who played big sister” and even mentioned her nickname, “Princess P.”
Preston was remembered as someone with a witty comeback “for everything and everyone” and would dance, sing or talk about the latest TikTok video she had just watched.
Although Preston died young, the consensus was that she got the most from her years on this planet.
“There’s a presence of Areanah’s spirit that says ‘keep going, you always wanted to be like me,'” remembered Mhoon as she stood at the podium with her husband, children and father.
“Death is only a tragic thing if you have not lived. My baby lived,” Mhoon said. “Rest peacefully, my sweet baby. Mama has it from here.”
This morning we will lay our hero to rest.
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) May 17, 2023
The letter the mother of fallen Chicago Police officer Areanah Preston wrote to her daughter, found inside the funeral program, is beautiful, heartbreaking and expresses in words that perfect kind of love a mother has for her daughter. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/LwycNRRpPb
— Jackie Kostek (@JackieKostek) May 17, 2023