Slain Woman Aspired to Lift Her Family Financially

By Tanveer Ali on July 3, 2013 12:20pm 

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 Ashley Hardmon, 19, was fatally shot in the 1300 block of North Lamon Avenue Tuesday night.
Ashley Hardmon killed in Austin
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AUSTIN — Ashley Hardmon was a sweet 19-year-old woman who loved her family and had big dreams, neighbors and family said.

"She would say 'I want to make money, momma,'" said Tiffany Hardmon, 39. "That was her life goal. To make money so she could take care of me and her father."

Ashley Hardmon was shot dead Tuesday night in the 1300 block of North Lamon Avenue, just a five-minute walk from her family's home.

"I heard shots and I thought it was firecrackers," said Essie Taylor, 70, who lives around the corner from the site of the shooting and had known Hardmon for years. "She was a sweet girl. She was a sweet child."

The shooting occurred when two people on foot fired into a group that Hardmon was with about 9:40 p.m., police said.

Hardmon was shot in her head.

A 2012 graduate of Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, Hardmon was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital at 10:14 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Hours later and just blocks away, 14-year-old Damani Henard was shot dead while riding his bike in the 5000 block of West North Avenue.

Police said the investigations into both shootings are ongoing and wouldn't say if there was any connection between the incidents.

Family and neighbors said they didn't know who Hardmon was with when she was shot, but there was nothing about Hardmon's life that would suggest she was targeted.

"She had a lot of friends and everybody loved her," said her older sister Latasia Hardmon, 21.

Known to many as "Muffin," a nickname that stuck with her from her days as a chubby infant, Ashley Hardmon had many interests from music to shoes to basketball, her sister said.

"She recently attended her first Pride Parade," Latasia Hardmon said. "She had a lot of pride and respect for people."

Hardmon had recently completed training under the federal Job Corps program to become a pharmacy technician, family said. She was set to start an internship at a Walgreens later this year.

Tiffany Hardmon said her slain daughter, the second of three children, was talented and wanted to be the person who supported her entire family.

But she said that the violence that claimed her daughter shows that there are people in her neighborhood that lack true aspirations or respect for life.

"You have some people out here that don't have anything to live for," Tiffany Hardmon said.

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