‘Numb and Shocked': Community Mourns an Innocent City Employee Gunned Down Leaving Starbucks

49-year-old Yvonne Nelson was a 311 operator in the Office of Emergency Management and Communication. She was shot and killed Friday afternoon while leaving the Bronzeville coffee shop

A family is devastated and the community in mourning after an innocent city employee was killed as she left a Starbucks just two blocks from Chicago Police headquarters Friday afternoon. 

49-year-old Yvonne Nelson was a 311 operator in the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. She was leaving the coffee shop at 35th and State Streets in Bronzeville after her shift at 4 p.m. when she was struck by gunfire intended for someone else, according to police. 

"The female victim was completely innocent, she just happened to be exiting out of the Starbucks when she was struck by a gunshot," said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. 

She was taken to Stroger Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, officials confirmed. 

Nelson lived in the 4900 block of S Vincennes, where the community is shaken over her untimely death. 

"I'm still numb and shocked. I'm still numb and shocked about what happened," said next-door neighbor Stephen Lewis, who is now caring for her dog Max. "She went to work, walked her dog, and you know, enjoyed time with her family and her church, and that was pretty much it. She kept to herself." 

"I went to the house last night, we stood outside her house actually, Yvonne's house, and prayed with the family," said Pastor John Hannah of the New Life Covenant Church. "They're devastated. Totally shocked. And they just need the prayers of the city to cover them." 

Nelson had worked as a communications operator at the OEMC since 2002.

"Yvonne Nelson was a dedicated and hardworking employee," the OEMC said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. She will be deeply missed by her fellow staff at 311." 

"When I saw her face yesterday, it occurred to me that I knew who she was," Superintendent Johnson said Saturday. "So we're going to work this case. Not that we don't work the other ones, but this one has a personal touch to it." 

Police said the intended target, a man in his mid-20s, is a documented gang member. He was shot several times and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition, according to officials, but sustained non-life threatening injuries.

"This incident right here highlights what I've been saying for the last month and a half about how brazen these violent offenders are," Johnson added. "It illustrates how people have weapons in the city of Chicago, and they don't mind using them." 

Authorities said the offender fled on foot, westbound toward U.S. Cellular Field. No one is in custody and authorities continue to investigate. 

Contact Us