A Chicago school community is devastated after a special ed teacher was killed while stopping in at her second job at a real estate office Thursday night.
Bullets from a suspected gang-related shooting tore through the wall of Dr. Betty Howard's real estate office in the city's Chatham neighborhood. At least one shot struck her head. Howard, who had stopped in to drop off paperwork, was pronounced dead at an area hospital less than an hour later, Fox Chicago reports.
Everyone who knew Howard is "devastated at the loss of their colleague and friend," said Chicago Teacher's Union President Karen Lewis.
Howard, 58, was remembered as a "life-changing educator" for her work at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy High School in the city's South Side Roseland neighborhood, CBS Chicago reports.
"Dr. Howard has been a member of our family for many years," Brooks principal D’Andre Weaver told CBS. "Her love for all children, but particularly children with diverse learning needs, was second to none.”
Howard's brother, Chicago Police Officer Orlando Long, described his sister as "a very happy person; was always smiling, and always laughing, and just full of joy.”
The Chicago Teachers Union, of which Howard was a member, released a statement from Lewis Friday:
“Our fallen sister brings to mind the loss that we all feel for every child and adult who lives in the city and is a victim of deadly violence. The seemingly random nature of this incident makes it all the more painful, and highlights the attention that must be given to neighborhoods where people face these tragedies on a daily basis.
In addition to teaching and working in real estate, Brooks was also the “first lady” of New Light Holiness Church where her husband, Rev. Major Howard serves as pastor. According to the Sun-Times, Brooks served as a case manager at the church, also organizing a tutoring program.
"She didn't deserve to die like this," Howard's neighbor, Odell Spencer, told the Tribune. “There is so much violence and I feel so helpless and it's innocent people getting killed all the time. Everybody knows Betty on this block as a really cheerful, thoughtful person. She will be missed."
Police have not arrested any suspects.