Celebrating commencement along with her mother who labored late shifts to pay for faculty prices made that ceremony of passage a shining second for Jayla Shelton.
“There’s this image of each of us cheesing so onerous” for the digicam, mentioned Shelton, who graduated magna cum laude from Jacksonville College in Florida. “That was in all probability one of many proudest moments of each our lives.”
However when it got here to a different mother-daughter milestone — Shelton’s wedding ceremony in September — her beloved dad or mum, Tamara Clayton, wasn’t there.
Clayton, 55, was driving to work from the South suburbs to a late-night shift on the U.S. Postal Service close to O’Hare Worldwide Airport at round 10 p.m. Feb. 4, 2019, when bullets fired on I-57 close to Cicero Avenue struck and killed her.
Greater than two years later, the crime stays unsolved.
Shelton recalled a lady with a ardour for household and enjoyable, who cared for her grandmother after coronary heart surgical procedure, would not say no to a conga line, and at all times was there for her daughter.
“She was the lifetime of the social gathering,” Shelton mentioned. “She was actually energetic.”
The 2 have been buddies, as nicely. “I am an enormous nerd and I took her to certainly one of my anime conventions,” Shelton mentioned. In alternate, Clayton took her daughter on annual home music bus excursions in Chicago, and each beloved roller-skating collectively.
In October of 2018, to rejoice Clayton’s birthday, they jaunted to Common Studios theme park for rides and cotton sweet, and “she nonetheless had sufficient vitality to be a part of a conga line at one of many eating places,” Shelton recalled.
It was a break from a strenuous job the place Clayton was on her toes regularly, lifting packages as much as 70 kilos. “It did take a put on and tear on her physique,” Shelton mentioned.
However the stability and wage that helped pay for personal faculty and faculty tuition saved Clayton at her late-night shift, regardless of considerations about crime en route from her Nation Membership Hills dwelling to work.
Shelton hit the books at school and threw herself right into a profession as a recruiter to assist her mom retire early so “she was going to finally transfer to wherever my husband and I settled down so I might handle her.”
As an alternative, Shelton deliberate her wedding ceremony with out the vivacious Clayton, and though her aunt was there to stroll her down the aisle, the loss shadowed a cheerful day.
“We had memorial areas and issues of that nature, however it positively was robust.”
The day Clayton died, she had a type of unusual cellphone conversations along with her daughter that turn into particular, unbeknown to both that they will by no means occur once more.
Tremendous Bowl adverts. Shelton’s home search. Clayton’s gearing up for work that night time. Grandma’s well being.
“I did not need to keep on the cellphone too lengthy as a result of I at all times felt dangerous about taking time away from her sleep,” Shelton recalled. “She by no means slept a full eight hours.”
Together with her mother’s dying, she mentioned, “you actually do lose part of your self.”
Illinois lawmakers handed the Tamara Clayton Expressway Digital camera Act in July of 2019 to put in cameras that seize footage of license plates with the intent of catching freeway shooters.
The investigation into her dying “stays open and ongoing,” officers mentioned on Feb. 11, when asserting $12.5 million in funding for the know-how.
“Tamara Clayton’s tragic dying should not be forgotten, and we should do every part we are able to to forestall extra expressway shootings,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker mentioned in a press release.
Since Feb. 11, there have been greater than 160 Chicago and Prepare dinner County expressway shootings with 17 fatalities as of final week, the Illinois State Police reported.
Discovering peace is elusive with out justice, Shelton mentioned Wednesday. “Peace is a very robust factor that I can not essentially say I’ve to today till there’s an precise change in Illinois, particularly with the violence rising,” she added.