Four Chicago teens described by the Windy City’s mayor as “violent, repeat offenders” were denied bail at a hearing Wednesday after the presiding judge saw “a mountain of evidence” to support the murder charges against them.
Trevell Breeland and Joseph Brooks, both 19, and Jakwon Buchanan, 18, were the three adult murder suspects named by the Chicago Police Department in the shooting last weekend of Aréanah M. Preston in front of her own home. The fourth suspect, who is 16, was identified by NBC Chicago as Jaylen Frazier. All of them are charged with first-degree murder, and Frazier will reportedly face charges as an adult.
Preston, a 24-year-old officer who had served on the force for three years, was set to graduate from the University of Loyola School of Law with a master of jurisprudence degree this Saturday, May 13. She was shot in her front yard at around 1:40 a.m. on Saturday, May 6 just after she finished her shift. Preston died at the hospital.
The suspects allegedly murdered Preston during an extensive robbery spree between May 5 and May 6.
“These individuals were connected to multiple robberies & a motor vehicle theft earlier that morning leading up to the murder of Officer Preston,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday. “Additional charges include armed robbery, arson, burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, & unlawful use of a weapon. Thank you officers & Area 2 Detectives for your tireless work to apprehend these individuals. We also thank our federal partners, including Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office & FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in bringing justice for Aréanah and her family. Though Aréanah is not physically here with us, her spirit of service and kindness will forever carry on. We will #neverforget.”
In a brief narrative of the shooting, the department said that Preston, who was still in uniform when she was killed, was shot in the line of duty.
The “offenders were arrested and charged in connection to the murder and armed robbery of Chicago Police Officer Aréanah M. Preston, who was fatally shot in the line of duty on May 6, 2023, in the 8100 block of S. Blackstone (4th District), Chicago Police announced. “The offenders are also charged in connection to incidents that occurred on May 5-6, 2023, including armed robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson and weapons violations. The offenders were placed into custody and subsequently charged accordingly.”
The suspects allegedly drove by the victim’s house, turned around in the vehicle they were in, shot Preston, and grabbed the officer’s gun.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised law enforcement for apprehending the suspects, who she described as violent and dangerous.
“I want to commend the Chicago Police Department and the hardworking detectives for working swiftly to apprehend and bring to justice the four individuals responsible for the heinous murder of Police Officer Aréanah M. Preston,” Lightfoot said in a statement Wednesday. “Their diligent efforts have removed violent, repeat offenders from our streets. If you examine each individual’s history, it quickly becomes a case study on the failure of our criminal justice ecosystem to protect our communities from harm. It is unacceptable that it took the murder of a police officer for these individuals to finally be brought to justice.”
In the statement, Lightfoot urged the city’s “entire” criminal justice system to to seek justice for Preston.
“I continue to call upon the entire ecosystem of the criminal justice system to take the necessary steps to ensure that individuals with an undeniable history of violent and dangerous behavior are kept off our streets,” her statement said. “The residents, brave officers, and victims of violent crimes who live and work in our city should not fear being harmed by people who are known to us to have committed violent acts over and over again.”
In denying the defendants bail Wednesday, Judge David Kelly reportedly remarked that the state has “a mountain of evidence” to support the allegation that the four “engaged in a very violent crime spree.”
According to the Associated Press, Preston’s mother Dionne Mhoon was “heartbroken” and “full of anger, rage, questions why” after the hearing.
“We poured into her, we poured into her education. As I said in that courtroom today, the people I really feel sorry for are those boys,” the grieving mother reportedly said. “I felt sorry for them because nobody poured into them. Nobody told them that they were loved. Nobody told them that they could do anything, like I constantly preached to my daughter.”
“I pray for their family. I really do,” Mhoon added.
Frazier, Breeland, Buchanon and Brooks each face murder, robbery, and burglary charges connected to a stolen car, with Brooks and Breeland facing five felony robbery counts each. Frazier, Breeland, and Buchanon also face arson charges. All of the charges are felonies, except for one misdemeanor count against Breeland for allegedly violating an order of protection.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]