One year after her murder rocked the Pilsen neighborhood, Chicago Police are still hunting Aaren O’Connor’s killer.
In a plea issued Tuesday, a year after the 25-year-old Pilsen woman was fatally shot, CPD Violent Crimes Lt. Ozzie Valdez said police are close to solving the high profile case. Police have a suspect in the shooting, but they need more evidence, Valdez said.
“It’s not what we think or what we theorize or what we believe, it’s what we can prove. And this is why I’m here today, we need your help,” Valdez said to reporters at the 51st & Wentworth police station. “We need the help of the community where Aaren lived to solve this case.”
About 6:40 p.m. Feb. 5, 2016, O’Connor, 25, was seated inside of her 2009 gray Honda Civic at 2046 W. 21st St. talking to her sister and dad on the phone when she was fatally struck by gunfire. Details about the shooter are unknown, but police did recover one firearm from the scene.
Chicago Police believe O’Connor was not the intended target of the shooting and that she was shot during an ongoing fight on the block between two gangs. No arrests have been made to date, but a suspect or suspects have been interviewed in the case, Valdez said.
Police have ballistic and circumstantial evidence in the case, but are lacking eyewitness evidence that could close the case. Valdez said there are “absolutely” witnesses out there who know who pulled the trigger.
“I understand reluctancy to get involved in something like this because of fear of retaliation,” Valdez said. But if neighbors saw anything that evening, or heard who was responsible for the shooting after, “please come forward,” Valdez said.
Two weeks after O’Connor was killed, a Pilsen house was tagged with graffiti saying, “Aaren O’Connor’s Killers.” The words were scrawled in blue spray paint on the home accompanied by an arrow pointing up.
Police would not say whether individuals living in the house are suspects in the case.
Carlos Sorto, O’Connor’s longtime boyfriend, said last year that Pilsen neighbors do know more, but are too frightened to come forward. When he canvassed the neighborhood with her friends and family, neighbors would say, “‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you.'”
“I do feel there are a lot of people in the community that do know what happened. But they’re scared,” he said.
On Tuesday, Sorto said neighbors are still scared to come forward with information.
“They say they know [the shooter], but they’ll say, ‘I’d rather not get involved.’ Or ‘It’s not my fault,'” Sorto said. “It makes me feel sad for them, because it’s nearsighted. It didn’t happen to them, but it will keep happening.”
Despite setbacks, Sorto continues to talk to neighbors in hopes that closing the case will give Aaren’s family a “sense of justice,” he said.
“I do miss her every day, I think about her every second. It’s not something I can ever ignore,” Sorto said.
Friends of O’Connor said she’s an innocent victim of Chicago’s increasing gun violence. She was relatively new to Chicago, moving to the city from San Diego less than two years ago to be with her boyfriend.
Police continue to seek other video footage or information to help them identify the shooter. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at 312-747-8380 and is asked to reference case number HZ-141818. A $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest is now being offered, according to Chicago Police.
Anonymous tips can be made by calling the Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-535-7867.
Article Org: dnainfo.com