GALESBURG, ILLINOIS-- Flowers now lay at the site where Jenni McGruder spent her last moments alive.
When officers arrived they found 26-year-old Jenni McGruder with a single gunshot wound. She was later pronounced dead at the scene by Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas.
Close family and friends say Jenni was a mother with a big heart and infectious smile. She was out celebrating her 26th birthday when the shooting occurred.
"She’s so outgoing and so cheerful about life, she just wanted to enjoy life and this happening to her... it’s just shocking," said close family member, Joanna Dixon.
Family meant everything to Jenni, she now leaves behind a husband and two children. Dixon says Jenni was well known among many members in the Galesburg community and that she will be dearly missed.
"She was a wonderful person she knew everyone around here…and that beautiful smile she had the most beautiful smile," remembered Dixon.
Jenni's last post on Facebook shared her gratitude for her family and friends. Part of it read:
"The older I get the more I value my life my family and my friends...I want to say thank you to all those near and far who wished me a happy birthday...I have love for you all."
Jenni was also part of a local organization called Walk For Baby Feet, which was started by her older sister – Jamie Dunker. She nominated Dunker for the Jefferson Awards, which is a program that recognizes unsung heroes in our community who are doing great things for others. WQAD News 8 is a Media Partner of the Jefferson Awards and shared the sisters’ story just two months ago.
Jamie said her sister Jenni was the true hero to her. She told News 8 the family has set up a memorial fund at the F&M bank to help support Jenni's two children. You can find more information on that here.
Galesburg Police are continuing to investigate this incident and her family members are searching for answers.
"All I`m asking for this community is to find the guy that did this and stop this gun killing. You don`t know what it`s like until it`s your family and so young of age just stop all this," said Dixon.
Anyone with information is asked to call Galesburg Police Detective Kevin Legate at (309) 345-3765, Galesburg Area Crime Stoppers at (309) 344-0044 or you can text “GALESBURG” then the tip to 274637.