Top cop’s wife coached slain CPD officer’s high school cheerleading team: 'She did not deserve this'

The slaying of an off-duty Chicago police officer hit close to home for the wife of Chicago’s top cop, a former police supervisor who coached the young patrolwoman’s high school cheerleading team and who remembers her as "an absolute sweetheart."

Interim police Supt. Eric Carter was there to provide the first details of the killing during a somber news conference Saturday outside the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Officer Areanah Preston was pronounced dead after being gunned down outside her home hours earlier.

His wife, former police Capt. Saadia Carter, said memories and photos quickly began pouring in from members of the cheerleading team she coached at UIC College Prep on the Near West Side.

"She always had something funny to say and was guaranteed to pass on her infectious smile," Carter said of Preston. "She did not deserve this!"


Nicknamed "Legs," Preston played the role of flyer, the team member who’s tossed in the air during stunts. Carter’s daughter — Preston’s friend — was the team’s captain.

Carter said the killing left her "numb."

After graduating from UIC College Prep, Preston started at Illinois State University in 2016 and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and law enforcement administration. While working for the Chicago Police Department the past three years, she studied for a master’s in criminology at Loyola University Chicago and was set to graduate next Saturday.

Carter said Preston’s mother approached her husband at the Cook County medical examiner’s office Saturday and told him she remembered him. The couple used to take the team on trips to Six Flags Great America twice a year and treated her cheerleaders "like part of our family."

"She was our officer and a part of our UIC College Prep family," Carter said.