ShotSpotter, the city’s gunshot detection system, quickly picked up the barrage of gunfire that killed Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston during a shootout with thieves early Saturday morning as she was walking home from work.
But an officer wasn’t sent to her block in Avalon Park until 2:02 a.m. when her Apple Watch reported a car accident. This was about 20 minutes after the first ShotSpotter warning. At 2:15 a.m., a traffic officer finally showed up and said that Preston had been shot.
“Someone was shot. “It’s an off-duty police officer,” the traffic cop says on the radio before rushing Preston to the hospital himself.
Since the shooting happened two days ago, police officials haven’t said why it took so long for police and emergency workers to react.
Anthony Riccio, who used to be the first deputy police superintendent and has since left, said, “The dispatcher didn’t have a car to send to the ShotSpotter alert because there was a backlog of calls.”
“When the Apple Watch reported a traffic accident, the dispatcher told a traffic car,” he said. “Usually, it’s just one person in the car, and their only job is to go to accidents.”
Riccio said that traffic cops usually cover a whole police district instead of a smaller job like patrol cars.
He said, “Because they’re a one-man car, they don’t get called to things like shots fired, domestics, robberies, and so on.” “Nothing stops them from going, but most of the time they’re not sent there, so they don’t.”
“If someone had gotten there sooner,” he said, “things would have been different for sure.”
At 1:43 a.m., a ShotSpotter warning came in, and a dispatcher told officers over the police radio that nine rounds had been found in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue.
Nearly 20 minutes later, a dispatcher came on the radio to say that an Apple Watch had reported a traffic accident on the same block. Sources said that Preston owned the watch.
The cop says, “I’m coming from afar.”
The dispatcher says, “Okay, and just so you know, there was a ShotSpotter out there around the same time.”
In the 8700 block of South South Chicago Avenue, about 2 miles from where Preston was found shot, a car hit a police cruiser and took off around the same time as the Apple Watch warning.
Officers in several police cars radioed that they were on their way to the accident, which prompted one officer to reply, “We don’t need everyone coming here. We just need a few cars to get people moving.”
2 Police Officers Were Hurt
Two police officers were hurt, but their injuries did not seem to be life-threatening.
About 13 minutes went by before the traffic cop who came to help found Preston shot and said over the radio, “It doesn’t look good.” “Quick, get an ambulance here!”
Over the next few minutes, people worked to close off streets while the traffic cop rushed Preston to the University of Chicago Medical Center. Preston was declared dead at the hospital after a police helicopter and a dispatcher worked together to close off streets on the way there.
Riccio said that because the force is short on people, there will be more problems with staffing and it will be “a rough summer” for regular cops.
He said, “I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to cancel their days off again and again.” “Most of the time, it’s just to drive the patrol cars in the areas where they work. On top of that, there are special events and problems downtown.”
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