CHICAGO — Four teens went on a “very violent crime spree” this weekend, robbing people and stealing a car before police officer Aréanah Preston was shot to death, prosecutors and Cook County Judge David Kelly said Wednesday.
A 16-year-old and three men — Trevell Breeland, 19; Joseph Brooks; 19 and Jakwon Buchanan, 18 — are facing murder, robbery and other charges in relation to Preston’s slaying and a string of robberies and a car theft beforehand, interim Supt. Eric Carter said at a Wednesday news conference.
The 16-year-old is being charged as an adult.
All four were ordered held without bail by Kelly at a hearing Wednesday.
Early Saturday, Preston was returning home from work and was in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue when the teens drove around her in a stolen sedan and pulled up in front of her house, Carter and prosecutors said.
Three of the teens got out and ran toward Preston, setting off a flurry of gunfire, private surveillance footage shows, prosecutors said. Preston was off-duty but in uniform.
After Preston fell to the ground, three of the teens went back to the sedan, while one ran back to where Preston was lying and took her gun, prosecutors said.
Preston was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Brooks told detectives he “shot first” when he saw Preston reach for her gun, prosecutors said.
About a dozen 9-millimeter shell casings were found at the scene. Ballistics determined the casings were fired from two guns, prosecutors said.
Preston’s magazine and cellphone were left at the scene.
After the shooting, the suspects drove to a nearby vacant lot, then drove around looking for more people to rob, prosecutors said.
The car used in the shooting — a red Kia Forte — was found about 2 a.m. in the 7200 block of South Rhodes Avenue, and it appeared to have been intentionally set on fire, police and prosecutors said.
Preston was killed at the end of a violent robbery spree, prosecutors said.
Buchanan’s girlfriend told him “she needed money for a barbecue,” then she and another woman picked up the four teens in a Dodge Avenger, prosecutors said.
The teens wore black clothing and face coverings as they robbed one 33-year-old woman shortly after midnight near the 900 block of East 46th Street, then stole the Kia in 4700 block of South Indiana Avenue, robbed a 29-year-old woman at gunpoint in the 10000 block of South Wallace Avenue and robbed a man who had just parked a Tesla in the 9100 block of South Merrill Avenue, prosecutors said.
Detectives used extensive cellphone data, private surveillance footage and DNA testing to charge the teens, prosecutors said.
Kelly said he leaned on that “mountain of evidence” in denying the four bail.
Carter said community members helped detectives with the case, and officers worked through their grief to find and arrest the people charged.
Carter said he hopes the charges can bring a small measure of peace to Preston’s family.
Preston, 24, had worked in the 5th Police District for three years, police previously said.
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