‘She was like everyone’s mom’: Retired special education teacher killed in crossfire on way home from White Sox game in Chicago

Crime

CHICAGO — A woman killed in a shooting on the Dan Ryan Expressway Tuesday night was a retired suburban teacher.

State police said the shooting happened around 10 p.m. Tuesday in the outbound lanes near 63rd Street. A trooper was nearby, heard the shots and called it in.

A passenger who was sitting in the backseat of one vehicle was killed. She was identified as Denise Huguelet, 67, of Orland Park. Huguelet worked as a special education teacher at Central Middle School in Evergreen Park for 24 years, and was on the way home from a White Sox game at the time of the shooting.

Another car that was hit was able to pull off the highway at 71st Street and Wentworth Avenue. Police said a woman in that car had a graze wound.

State police and CPD were able to catch up with the suspect’s vehicle after a high-speed chase at 61st Street and Ashland Avenue.

Walter Melancon, 22, holds a special place in his heart for Huguelet — who he credits for helping him grow up.

“Growing up I had anger issues. I had trouble focusing and she changed that for me. She helped me get through all that,” Melancon said. “She was like everyone’s mom. You didn’t have your lunch? She made sure you eat lunch. You need help? She made sure you got help. You were sad? She didn’t let you go home ’till you were in a better mood.”

Brittany DeMik also went to Central Middle School, but wasn’t Huguelet’s student. That didn’t matter because she was everyone’s teacher, DeMik said.

“She had a smile that would light up an entire room. If you were having a bad day and she smiled at you, you would instantly feel better. You could go in and talk to her and she always made you feel good.

Illinois State Police have investigated 157 expressway shootings so far in 2021, 51 of which have occurred on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

A state police cruiser was damaged in the crash.

Two suspects are in custody and an investigation is ongoing.

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