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Aurora police seeking leads in Tuesday shooting death

Members AurorPolice Department traffic unit use survey equipment Wednesday April 24 2013 map scene where fatal shooting took place Tuesday

Members of the Aurora Police Department traffic unit use survey equipment on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 to map the scene where a fatal shooting took place, Tuesday evening on Spruce Street between Elmwood Drive and Fordham Avenue. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 28, 2013 7:41PM

“It’s just hard to believe. I don’t understand it.”

That was the feeling of Sara Jackson, the mother of Quiane Smith of Joliet, who was shot to death in Aurora Tuesday night.

Police responded to the area of Spruce Street and Elmwood Drive for reports of shots fired around 9 p.m. Tuesday. Upon arrival, they found Smith lying dead in a yard in the 1000 block of Spruce Street. Police said Smith had a gunshot wound to the head.

Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. No motive or suspect has been identified yet.

‘Not right’

Jackson said she got the call around 10 p.m. that her oldest son, 26, had been shot. She said he had three children of his own — two girls and a boy, ages 6, 4 and 2.

“They keep asking for their dad. They want their dad,” Jackson said. “He was an excellent father.”

Jackson said that Smith was with two cousins at the Aurora home where the shooting occurred.

“They walked out the front door, saw a red truck, and heard bullets start to fly,” Jackson said. “They thought he ran, too, but he had been shot.”

Jackson said the coroner told her that her son did not suffer after receiving a single gunshot wound to the head.

“I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it,” she said, describing how the family just celebrated Smith’s birthday last month. “It just hasn’t set in yet.”

Jackson said she wasn’t sure why her son was in Aurora on Tuesday night, or why someone targeted him.

“Somebody out there decided to make his babies’ mom a single mom. Now she has to do it on her own,” Jackson said. “That’s not right.”

Leads trickle in

Aurora police said they have received some leads regarding the shooting, but none are substantial. Still, they said, every bit helps.

“This happened right around 9 p.m., so hopefully someone saw something,” Aurora Police Department spokesman Dan Ferrelli said. “No matter how small you think (information) is, it should be reported. Let us decide how important it is. An investigation is like putting together a puzzle. Sometimes you need one small piece to get to the next step.”

Crime scene investigators were on the scene Wednesday, examining bullet trajectories at the home where Smith was shot. The home is just a block away from West Aurora High School. The high school doors can be seen from the home’s lawn. West Aurora School District spokesman Mike Chapin said he had no additional information on the incident, outside of what police were reporting.

It is unclear whether any students were at the school at 9 p.m. when the shooting occurred.

Across the street from the school on Wednesday, a man, who asked that his name not be used, was doing work on his mother’s home. He was worried about the 90-year-old woman’s safety.

“She doesn’t know what happened, and I don’t want her to,” he said.

Police are still not sure about the motive for the shooting. Police records show Smith was arrested as a juvenile on charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm in 2004. He was also convicted on a felony possession of marijuana charge stemming from an October 2012 arrest in Will County. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail and two years of probation in that case.

Police are asking anyone with information to call detectives at 630-256-5500 or Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.

Second murder

Last year, Aurora police were lauded for their anti-crime efforts that resulted in a homicide-free year for the city. It was the first time in 66 years that Aurora didn’t have a single murder.

This is a stark contrast to 2013, where two killings are already on the books.

On Jan. 31, Abigail Villalpando, 18, of Aurora, was allegedly beaten to death with a hammer by an acquaintance. Her body was burned and dumped in a field in Montgomery, police said. Three men face charges in connection to Villalpando’s murder.

Also, according to Aurora police, there have been approximately 25 shootings throughout the city as of April 15. Six of those shootings have resulted in non-life threatening injuries to people. That number is up drastically from 2012, when there were nine shootings reported during the same time period. Three of those shootings involved victims with injuries.

Ferrelli said there was a spike in shootings that took place in January, and gang graffiti began to pop up around the city in late February and March.

“The majority of these incidents have gang motivation,” he said, but would not comment on how that might relate to the shooting of Smith.

Police are keeping the heat on particular gangs that are thought to be responsible for the upswing in city violence, Ferrelli said. They are monitoring local hotspots and keeping an eye on frequent offenders.

“We are adjusting our resources based on this intelligence,” he said, adding that “the public is a big part of reducing violence.”

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