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Pilsen Woman Killed in Shooting an 'Innocent Victim,' Friends Say

By  Joe Ward and Stephanie Lulay | February 8, 2016 7:15pm 

 Aaren O'Connor was found unresponsive in her car after being shot in the head in Pilsen Friday night.
Aaren O'Connor was found unresponsive in her car after being shot in the head in Pilsen Friday night.
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PILSEN — The bloody start to the year continued apace this weekend, when a 25-year-old Pilsen woman was fatally shot while sitting in her car, apparently an innocent victim of Chicago's increasing gun violence, police and friends said.

The woman was shot while sitting in her car outside of her apartment in the 2000 block of West 21st Street at 7:25 p.m. Friday, according to police. She was found unresponsive in the car with a gunshot wound to her head, police said. The woman was identified Monday by friends as Aaren O'Connor.

Chicago Police believe she was not the intended target of the shooting. No arrests have been made as the investigation is still ongoing, Officer Thomas Sweeney, Chicago Police spokesman, told DNAinfo Chicago Monday night.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) told DNAinfo on Monday that the woman died after being shot Friday. Neither the Chicago Police Department nor the Cook County Medical Examiner's office was able to confirm O'Connor's death Monday.

"It is very sad and very frustrating," Solis said.

O'Connor was relatively new to Chicago. She had moved from San Diego less than two years ago to be with her boyfriend, according NBC Chicago.

Messages placed to O'Connor's family were not immediately returned Monday.

The news shocked O'Connor's coworkers at Tomy, a toy company with an office in suburban Oak Brook. Willie Wilkov, who worked with O'Connor at the company, said the office is reeling following her loss, calling O'Connor "intelligent" and "compassionate."

"She was a very special person," Wilkov told DNAinfo. "She was experienced beyond her years. No one had a bad word to say about her."

Wilkov and other coworkers have started a GoFundMe to help support O'Connor's family. Any leftover funds will be put toward a memorial in her honor, Wilkov said. Friends and family have raised over $12,800 as of Monday night.

The Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund might end up establishing a scholarship for study abroad students, because O'Connor loved to travel, Wilkov said. Or the fund might go toward helping inner city kids move from violence and into productive roles in society.

Wilkov said it's still early, but that ultimately he'd love to see a community center named in O'Connor's honor.

'We've had a very rough couple of days," Wilkov said. "We started coming together this weekend, think about what we can do. Hopefully we can help prevent another tragedy like this."

O'Connor's fatal shooting brings the toll from the weekend's violence to three killed and at least 22 wounded since Friday, according to police.

After setting records for the most violent January in recent memory, February is on pace to be set new record highs for the month, according to a DNAinfo Chicago analysis of monthly shooting totals.

"The situation in the city is pretty complex," Wilkov said of Chicago's violence. "If you want to make a difference, where do you even start?"

To make a donation in honor of O'Connor, visit the GoFundMe page here.

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