A father’s worst fear has been realized, as his 25-year-old daughter, who had just moved to Chicago, was caught in city crossfire, dying from a stray bullet to her head.
“I pleaded with her when she told me she was going to go to Chicago,” dad David O’Connor, of California, told WLS Eyewitness News. “I said there are much safer places for you to be.”
But daughter Aaren moved from San Diego to the Windy City about a year ago for her job as a brand manager for the toy company Tomy and to be with her long-distance boyfriend. And on Friday, a stray bullet hit her as she sat in her car after returning home from work, making her one of Chicago’s at least 17 homicides in the first week of February.
Aaren was on the phone with her sister when the call cut out, and her father, who was apparently with his other daughter, took over and called her back. “She was incoherent, didn’t know where she was, and kept saying that her head hurts. Her head hurts,” O’Connor said. “I wish I could have known what was going on, so I could have told her that I love her one more time.” He only found out what had happened after calling Aaren’s boyfriend, who in turn reached out to her roommate to check on her, CBS Chicago reports. “She was an amazing girl,” her dad said.
Tomy has set up a GoFundMe page to raise scholarship money for at-risk youth in Aaren’s name.
“We want to make sure that something positive can come from this senseless tragedy,” the fundraising page, which has already pulled in more than $28,600. “While trying to solve the gun violence epidemic in Chicago seems like an impossible task, we need to start somewhere. We believe we can teach people to see the world from the perspective of others. We hope we can teach people that violence isn’t the answer and provide them with resources to pursue a different path. We think we can teach people how to come together and become a stronger, more unified community. It is in this spirit that we announce the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Fund.”
“It gives her life meaning,” O’Connor told CBS, “and I so appreciate it.”
(Top photo: GoFundMe)