Young woman killed by stray bullet while talking to dad on phone


Aaren O’Connor was shot and killed while sitting in her parked car outside her Chicago apartment in February of 2016. She was caught in the crossfire of rival gang members.

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SAN DIEGO -- A fundraising effort was underway Tuesday to help pay funeral expenses for a young San Diego native who was killed by a stray bullet outside her Chicago apartment.

Aaren O'Connor, 25, was hit by the bullet Friday and died in a Chicago hospital two days later. She was on the phone with her father at the time.

"I'm sitting here, and I can't believe that she's gone," David O'Connor told FOX 5 News. "I just wish I could have been here to protect my baby, but I couldn't do that."

Aaren had just returned home from work Friday evening and was sitting in her car outside of her apartment. There was a fight outside of the car that she had nothing to do with, and shots were fired. One of the bullets hit her in the back of the head. She was on the phone with her father back in San Diego at the time. He had no idea what was going on.

"I'll never see her in a wedding dress. I'll never talk to her again," O'Connor said. "And it hurts me that the last thing she said to me was, 'My head hurts. My head hurts.' If I'd a know what she was going through and what was happening to her, I would have loved to tell her I loved her one last time."

The University of San Diego graduate had moved to Illinois to work for toy company TOMY International. According to O'Connor's LinkedIn page, she began working for the company in September 2014.

Following O'Connor's death, coworkers at TOMY set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the “Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund.'' As of about 8:30 a.m. today, nearly $21,000 had been donated.

“By simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time the world lost an amazing person and all of her potential,'' a message on the page stated. “We want to make sure that something positive can come from this senseless tragedy.''

The initial donations made via the GoFundMe page will be used to offset O'Connor's funeral and memorial service expenses. Additional contributions will eventually go toward a scholarship program in her memory that may help at-risk youth enroll in study abroad programs and an after school program at a Chicago community center.

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