Reward to Find Young Model's Killer Rises to $15K

Kaylyn Pryor, a bright-eyed 20-year-old, was an award-winning model and student working towards becoming a paralegal when she was shot to death

Chicago community and faith leaders have increased a financial incentive offered for information leading to the arrest of Kaylyn Pryor's killer.

Those who can aid in the capture of the gunman they're calling a "dream killer" will be rewarded with $15,000, officials announced Friday, which is three times more than the original incentive.

“I don’t want her to ever be forgotten” her father Alan Scott said Friday while standing in front of the Chicago Police Headquarters with the city’s leaders.

“What happened to Kaylyn is a travesty, and I am outraged. We are contributing to the reward fund because this young angel deserves justice and every person that takes a life should be off the streets and in prison,” said Pastor Roosevelt Watkins, president of Pastors United for Change.

Pyror, whom family and friends affectionately called "Kay," was shot to death leaving her grandparents’ house Monday, just weeks after being crowned winner of a renowned modeling contest and only blocks from where a 9-year-old boy was gunned down hours earlier.

She was standing outside with a 15-year-old boy from the neighborhood in the 7300 block of South May Street around 6:20 p.m. when a car pulled up and opened fire, according to police. She was killed when a bullet struck her in the right armpit. The teen with her was also shot but survived.

Police don’t believe Pryor was the intended target in the shooting, but it is likely the gunfire was in some way gang-related. It is still unclear if the teen she was standing with at the time of the shooting had ties to a gang.

Pryor’s father told NBC 5 his daughter was walking to the bus stop to travel back to their Evanston home when she was gunned down. He said he received the call while at the gym, and at the time was still in the dark about just how bad the news would be.

"I didn't know she had died. It really took me a while to get to the hospital," her father Alan Scott said. "I just hoped and prayed it wasn't so bad."

Pryor's friends and family have set up a GoFundMe account to help offset the costs associated with putting her to rest during a memorial service on Nov. 14. 

"We come to anyone willing, to help raise money to celebrate the life of our biggest, and brightest smile," the GoFundMe page reads.

Donations will go towards her wake, burial and repass expenses. 

"It's not often we come across a genuine spirit in our lives," the page states. "One that touches each soul it encounters, and leaves us grinning from ear to ear. Whether she was (randomly) busting out the hippest dance move, or walking into the room with a bag full of food, she lifted you up; even when you didn't know it. She was our smile."

Her death comes just over a month after the suburban Chicago native was crowned winner of Mario Tricoci’s 2015 "Mario, Make Me a Model" competition, which ended with a Sept. 25 celebration and fashion show at the Redmoon Warehouse in Chicago, with more than 1,000 supporters and fans in attendance.

“We are saddened and broken-hearted to learn of the tragic passing of Kaylyn Pryor. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family," Tricoci said in a statement Tuesday morning. "This touches every one of us who knew and worked with her. Kaylyn will be remembered for her kind and generous spirit. She truly was beautiful inside and out.”

Modeling was something that came naturally to the ambitious woman, he said, and was unexpected. She never took classes but stumbled upon Tricoci’s contest and decided to enter, ultimately garnering enough votes to take home the grand prize.

Following the win, Pryor signed with Factor Modeling Agency and was going to school at Robert Morris University’s Illinois campus with her sights set on becoming a paralegal.

In addition to modeling, Pryor enjoyed dancing, choreography, poetry and drawing.

Her grief-stricken father, still coming to terms with his daughter’s death, said her recent contest win was just one of the many things his bubbly, energetic daughter was looking forward to in her bright future.

"Everyone loved her," he said, citing her infectious and warm personality that drew others in.

Hundreds took to social media Tuesday morning to express despair over her sudden passing.

"So sad that she dies from senseless gun violence when just weeks ago she won this bright promising modeling," one tweet read.

"I honestly can not fathom a reason that a person can take another person's life. I'm sick," said another. "Rip Kaylyn Pryor. You did not deserve this."

The deadly shooting occurred less than two hours later and only blocks away from where a fourth-grader was shot and killed after coming home from elementary school.

"Gun violence in Chicago is not a joke," her sister Chantal Pryor said. "It's taking away all the innocent, talented kids and for what?"

"She's a gun violence statistic," her father said.

Just last week, President Barack Obama addressed the gun violence afflicting his hometown and urged cooperation between police officers and communities.

Obama listed statistics about lower crime rates nationwide, saying the crime rate across the country is now half of what it was 20 years ago — except in some cities, like Chicago, where violent crime has increased.

"I live on the South Side of Chicago, so my house is pretty close to some places where shootings take place," Obama said. "Because that's real, we have to get on top of it before it becomes an accelerating trend."

In September, the city saw one of its most violent months in years, with two consecutive weekends of more than 50 people shot. In a single day, on Sept. 2, nine people were killed and at least 12 others were wounded in shootings across the city, making it the deadliest day in the city in over a decade.

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