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Chicago Police: Pregnant probation officer killed, baby in critical condition

No one has been arrested in the shooting as of Friday morning

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By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — So incomprehensible was the idea that anyone would want to harm Stacey Jones -- a 35-year-old single mother of two boys thrilled to be pregnant with her third son -- that when her father was told she’d been fatally shot, he was sure it was a case of mistaken identity.

“Stacey Jones is a common name,” said Jones’ father, Tommy Baker, hours before Chicago police announced a possible suspect was being questioned in Jones’ killing.

“She was good, she made her father proud. She smiled all the time. I can’t see a reason why someone would shoot her,” said Baker, a former Army Specialist who now serves as Commander of VFW Post 5932 in Clinton, South Carolina. “At first, I thought it was mistaken identity -- I was absolutely sure they had the wrong Stacey Jones. I still can’t believe it.”

Jones, who moved to Chicago about two years ago to put to work her criminal justice degree from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, by accepting a position as a Cook County probation officer, was standing just outside her home when she was shot repeatedly in the back early Tuesday.

Her two sons, ages 7 and 11, who were inside their Jeffrey Manor home, were unharmed, according to a law enforcement source. Jones, a few weeks from turning 36, was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center and her death ruled a homicide by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Doctors were able to save her unborn child, who a law enforcement source said had not been struck by any gunfire. He was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital and Baker said at last update, the infant remained in critical condition.

“Now I’ve got three grandboys without a mother,” Baker said, adding that whoever killed his daughter is a coward for shooting her in the back. “You took something from them. You took something from my family, from me. You took my heart, my first-born, the sweetest little thing. It’s a loss that I’ll never get over.”

Baker said Jones was born in Alaska and grew up predominantly in Tennessee with her mother, who also was enlisted in the Army. Reached by phone Wednesday, she declined to be interviewed.

Jones was a go-getter who “always stayed happy,” and who was overjoyed to be having another child, her father said. She was an excellent mother who wanted her sons to have every opportunity in life. The boys spent three months living with Baker in South Carolina while they were out of school for the summer, he said.

“My daughter was a hard-working single parent. She was a devoted mother. She put (her children) in all kinds of activities, karate, baseball, wrestling. She took them to the zoo. She did everything she could for them with the money she had,” Baker said. “When she picked them up (in August), she took the time to visit all the family members who had helped me care for them in the summer. Family was everything to her, especially her boys.”

That visit was the last time Baker would see Jones, the oldest of four children. Baker slept on his couch when Jones visited and he gave his daughter his room.

“She was the boss,” he said, “apparently even in my house.”

That was a common thread in their relationship, his daughter pushing his limits -- and sometimes his buttons, he said with the trace of a laugh -- holding her own with her dad the way only his confident and loving daughter could. She managed to get “pork chops and chicken guy” Baker to try healthy foods, like when she saw a recipe online, took some zucchini he was growing in his garden and turned it into a pizza crust (“Came out OK,” he said).

She got him to sit still and not complain--much--about watching hour after hour of home improvement shows because her dream was to begin buying and flipping houses.

“She took notes because she wanted to be able to do it all herself,” he said.

When it came to what was important, like seeing family, she was a meticulous planner. Since she expected to spend Christmas with her mother and the new baby, Jones -- who once burned the turkey prepping a holiday meal for Baker -- said she was still considering driving to see him for Thanksgiving, although she’d be nearing her due date. Since she was unsure, she decided they should plan their 2021 visit, too.

But when it came to the pursuit of fun, Baker said Jones, who “never really grew up (and) stayed a kid at heart,” was as adventurous as anyone he knew.

“If somebody told her they did something, she wanted to do it, too. She was just spontaneous,” he said.

“If she had lived to make 60 I think she would’ve done everything in the world.”

Baker said he spoke with Jones on the phone at least once a week. They last spoke about six hours before she was shot, he said. They talked about their plans to use a Veterans Administration loan to jointly purchase homes, ideally one in Chicago and one in South Carolina, since her family was growing and they each needed more space for visits.

Before she took the job in Chicago in spring 2019, Jones had spent years working jobs related to counseling. She previously worked with an agency in Tennessee that helped provide immigrants job training and other skills, matching clients with applicable services.

“Every job she had was helping people. That was her goal in life, to help people,” Baker said. “She grew up with a respect and appreciation for the military and law enforcement. She was in the VFW Auxilliary.”

A police source said Jones, who had her a concealed carry license, had a loaded gun in her pocket when she was shot. Baker said he gave her a gun not long after she turned 18 and it was something she would have been comfortable using, but that she never carried. He also said she was typically asleep by 10 p.m., so he doesn’t understand why she was awake and outside when she was shot. He couldn’t think of anyone who would want to hurt his child.

“She never would’ve picked up a gun and walked outside, that’s not my child. I’m still trying to figure out why would she do that,” he said. “Evidently she was worried, which is why she took the gun. But the coward shot her in the back.”

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