BY BRIAN SLODYSKO
Tonya Gunn was shot to death on the Morgan Park block where her family has lived for generations.
Gunn was leaning against a car and talking to her cousin after a cookout at her grandfather’s house at South Throop and West 109th streets when gunshots rang out about 12:30 a.m. Monday, police and family said.
The 44-year-old West Pullman woman was shot twice — in the arm and the side — and died a short time later, authorities said.
“As far as her being in the wrong place at the wrong time — I can’t say that,” said Gunn’s cousin, Annette Scott, who was raised alongside Gunn.
“That block,” Scott said, pausing a moment. “My grandfather was born there. Her grandfathers were born on that block as well.”
“It was somewhere which was a safe haven for us,” she continued. “That’s where our family gathered, cooked and played volleyball.”
Scott said she and Gunn were born months apart and were both taught preschool by Gunn’s mother. Later they attended Morgan Park High School together. They have remained close through the years. And they planned a vacation later this month, hoping to catch some R&B acts at the Cincinnati Jazz Festival.
Gunn also leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter, Destiny, Scott said.
“She took pride in raising her child,” said Scott, who added that Gunn kept her daughter busy with sports and martial arts.
For over 20 years, Gunn worked at the University of Chicago, school officials said. Most recently she was a dispatcher who fielded customer service calls for the maintenance department.
“Her work ethic and good-humored manner were appreciated by clients and co-workers alike,” Steve Wiesenthal, an administrator who oversaw Gunn’s department, wrote to employees in an email on Monday. “We are all grief-stricken, and we send our deepest sympathies and condolences to her family and friends.”
As of Monday evening, Chicago Police said no arrests had been made.
Scott said the randomness of the shooting was maddening. It happened not long after Gunn finished grilling skirt steak.
Gunfire erupted from the direction of two cars that were passing by, said Scott, who was not present. Next thing everybody knew, Gunn had been hit.
“It’s a late summer night, out there with our cousins. And that’s it. Shots rang out,” Scott said. “That’s it. It wasn’t a fight. It wasn’t a fight. It wasn’t cross-fire. Two cars drove by and just started shooting.”