Less than an month after commencement was held at Oak Park and River Forest High School in west suburban Oak Park, an 18-year-old who was part of this year’s graduating class is being remembered by the school and surrounding community after she was killed Wednesday during an apparent robbery and carjacking at a local gas station.
According to Oak Park police, officers responded about 1:52 a.m. to the 100 block of Chicago Avenue — at Taylor Avenue — on a call of shots fired and found a woman unresponsive in a parking lot.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office late Wednesday identified the woman as Jailyn Logan-Bledsoe, 18, of Oak Park. Results of an autopsy done Thursday ruled her death a homicide after she was shot in the neck.
Police said she was robbed and the suspects fled the gas station in the vehicle she had been driving. As of late Thursday afternoon, police had not announced any arrests in the case.
Her family could not be immediately reached for comment about the teen and her death. However, Logan-Bledsoe is being remembered by some in the Oak Park area as a fierce advocate and organizer for her work in the community as well as her “brilliance” and “confidence.”
“She was a very powerful, brilliant young woman that definitely cared deeply about her community,” said Cynthia Drito, the teen’s adviser at the Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League, a youth-led community organization that has advocated for racial equality.
The OPRF High School commencement was held May 28 and Logan-Bledsoe had been part of the graduating Class of 2022.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news that Oak Park and River Forest High School student Jailyn Logan-Bledsoe was accosted and killed [Wednesday] during a robbery at a local gas station,” school officials said in a statement Thursday. “Please keep Jailyn’s family in your thoughts during this difficult time.”
Logan-Bledsoe was planning to attend college in Miami and pursue a career in tech, according to Drito.
Though students are on summer break, officials said in the statement that grief counselors would be available for students and staff “who may be in distress as a result of this tragedy.”
Since Logan-Bledsoe’s death, numerous community members, advocates and leaders have taken to social media to decry the uptick in violence in the area, particularly at 24-hour gas stations like the one where she was shot.
In addition to her work with ROYAL, which centered around combating police violence, LGBTQ issues and more, Logan-Bledsoe chaired the youth committee for the NAACP.
Drito said ROYAL would be advocating for the BP gas station to close earlier — around 11 p.m. — but emphasized that in addition to addressing the immediate safety concerns posed by the shooting and related incidents, community leaders and members should consider other factors that could lead to violence.
“I think that we really need to be more serious about looking at what is causing these acts of violence at the core,” she said. “Oak Park, for example, has a huge police force and I think that it shows that even as much police as you will have — just like you’ve seen in Uvalde, Texas — it doesn’t really prevent the violence.”
Jacob Díaz, 17, who called himself a close friend of Logan-Bledsoe’s and continues to work with ROYAL today, lives directly across the street from the gas station where the shooting took place. He said he recalled waking up that night to the sound of a gunshot, but believed he was dreaming until he heard sirens.
“The next day … I saw police tape all over, I saw the forensic team, police everywhere. And I’m like, ‘dang, who was that?’ And I was praying in my head … ‘Oh, I hope I don’t know this person. I hope I don’t know this person.’ Come to find out it was somebody that I used to be really close to and that I shared a bond with,” he told Pioneer Press.
Díaz, who has grown up in Oak Park, lamented how violence in his community has increased over the years.
“Just knowing that it was so close to home is the most heartbreaking thing for me because Oak Park is supposed to be a safe community, and a lot of people come to Oak Park to get away from the dangers of the city itself and it’s just not the same as it was when I was growing up here. It’s just different,” he said.
Oak Park village Trustee Ravi Parakkat wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that “24/7 gas stations have been and remain hot spots for crime.”
Parakkat told Pioneer Press that seven of the area’s eight 24-hour gas stations have seen 21 criminal incidents since 2019, according to data he said was provided to him by the police department.
Parakkat doesn’t believe that the fatal shooting Wednesday will be an isolated incident, especially as economic conditions continue to worsen, something that he is keeping in mind as he takes community concerns to the Village Board.
“This is something of a trend which is going to go up because of inflationary pressures. The socioeconomic situation is not looking great over the coming months, so that will directly have an impact on crime and in some cases, violent crime,” he said. “So how do you keep the community safe? How do you make the right investments to keep the community safe? … I think that is something that will rest with us as a board for this community.”
A man who identified himself to Pioneer Press as manager of the BP gas station where the shooting took place Wednesday, and requested to remain anonymous, said he found community criticism of 24-hour gas stations to be misplaced. He said that the greater problem was how the two suspects — who he said “looked young,” based on surveillance video footage that he saw — came into possession of the gun used in the shooting.
“I know that there are concerned neighbors and that they are pointing fingers at us, somehow blaming BP. … How are we responsible for any of this?” he asked. “The way it could have been prevented is if those kids did not have guns. Do we feel safe? No, nobody does, when there’s a shooting around, nobody feels safe.”