Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2023. 3:13 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Chicago Sun-Times has reported the sudden death of Belizean-American Gale Stephen, 69, a retired nursing assistant who was shot and killed while on her way to a funeral home last Saturday during the Memorial Day weekend.
The mother-of-five’s cousin recently died, and she insisted on driving herself to the funeral Saturday, even though her daughter wanted her to take it easy because she was always there for everyone.
Ironically and heartbreakingly, though, she never made it as she was found unresponsive with a gunshot wound in the side not far from the Falcon Fuel station after gunshots were heard in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Three others were also shot but did not have life-threatening injuries – but Stephen was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
“The fact that she died alone in that car is crushing,” her daughter said, speaking through tears. “My mom was asthmatic so I can imagine when that bullet hit her chest… She couldn’t breathe (and) she was alone.”
Stephen was among at least 12 people killed across the city over the holiday weekend, the most violent Memorial Day since 71 people were shot in 2016. But her family says she was the person they least expected this to happen to, having raised three daughters and two sons on her own and recently retired. She was still active with her grandchildren, getting them to and from school and cooking for them.
Stephen had plans to return to Belize in a few weeks for a month-long stay with her cousin but wanted to attend two of her grandchildren’s graduation ceremonies, one of whom was class valedictorian. That ceremony takes place on Friday, where she will be mentioned, but not physically present.
Police have not released any details of their investigation, according to the Sun-Times. The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Stephen’s funeral and burial.
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