Father describes harrowing last conversation with daughter shot by stray bullet as she talked on the phone

Friends described Aaren O'Connor as a victim of 'senseless' gun violence and have set up a memorial fund in her name

A father has told how his daughter was unknowingly dying from a bullet wound to the head as she talked to him on the phone while sitting in her car in the US.

David O'Connor did not realise his daughter, Aaren, had been accidentally shot during a gun battle between gangs on Friday night.

The 25-year-old had been talking to her sister on Friday evening in Chicago and when the line suddenly cut out, Mr O’Connor called his daughter back.

“Every few moments she said, 'My head hurts. My head hurts,” he told CBS News Chicago.

“I didn't realise at the time but I was just having the last conversation with my daughter.”

Concerned, Mr O’Connor contacted Aaren’s boyfriend, who called her flatmate to check on her.

She ran outside their apartment building to find her friend conscious in the car, with a bullet wound in the back of her head. She was taken to hospital but died on Sunday.

"I would have loved to have told her one more time I loved her and was proud of her,“ Mr O’Connor said. ”She was an amazing girl."

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Chicago is known for high rates of gun crime and violence compared to other US cities

Police believe Aaren was shot accidentally by a stray bullet during a gang gun battle in Chicago’s Pilsen district. No arrests have been made.

Her father said he had urged his daughter not to move to the city from their home in San Diego, California, because of safety fears, but she wanted to be closer to her long-distance boyfriend.

"I now have a void in my heart," Mr O'Connor wrote on Facebook. "One that can never be filled. I will never 'feel better' or 'get over it' and time does not heal all wounds.

"All I can do is find ways to cope. One day at a time." 

Her colleagues at at toy company Tomy have set up a GoFundMe page to support the family and create the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Fund, which will go towards a scholarship programme and schemes helping disadvantaged young people in Chicago.

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Friends and colleagues have set up a memorial fund to help disadvantaged young people in Chicago

Willie Wilkov, who set up the fundraising page, described Aaren as an “innocent victim of the rising gun violence in Chicago”

“Aaren was a beautiful 25 year-old woman who was intelligent, compassionate, caring, and hardworking with a deep love for her friends and family. She had a great sense of humour, love for adventure and a take charge personality,” he added.  “By simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time the world lost an amazing person and all of her potential.”

Mr Wilkov wrote that her friends wanted to ensure something positive comes from the “senseless tragedy” and that although gun violence in Chicago is complex, they want to enable people to “pursue a different path”.

Almost $28,000 (£19,000) had been raised by Wednesday morning.

Mr O’Connor said he was happy the project was giving his daughter’s life meaning.

“Enough is enough,” he told ABC 7 News. “It's just senseless, and it's reckless. And it's really eating the soul out of the city of Chicago and the people who live here.”

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