Crest Hill shooting: Suspect arrested after restaurant hit by gunfire during lunch, police say

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Suburban restaurant hit by gunfire during lunch; 1 in custody: police
A shooting in Crest Hill, Illinois on Tuesday afternoon left customers at Merichka's restaurant in the 600 block of Theodore Street shaken.

CREST HILL, Ill. (WLS) -- Our coverage of this story has moved here.

Gunfire broke out in Crest Hill during lunchtime on Tuesday, striking multiple businesses.

Police said the shooting happened around 1 p.m. in the 600 block of Theodore Street.

Merichka's restaurant, which has been there for more than 90 years, was among the businesses hit by bullets. The manager, Ryan George, said it is fortunate that no one was sitting in the front section of the eatery when bullets came through the window.

George said surveillance cameras at the business captured a shootout between two groups of people, so this wasn't just a shooting. It was a gun battle with several shots fired with dozens of shots fired.

Across Theodore Street, at a Joliet strip mall, a gym and hair salon were struck by gunfire.

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"It sounded like it was like a battle, you know, like a whole war," said Super Puffs Tobacco & Minimart owner Moe Amer. "We hit the ground. There's really nothing we can do, you know. All we could do is just try to protect ourselves. We hit the ground, me and my worker."

Investigators said they recovered at least 40 shell casings from the scene.

A mother hit the deck with her children
Ryan George

Joliet police said at least three suspects fled the area in a light-colored SUV.

Police said no one was injured at the restaurant or elsewhere, but customers were left shaken. Some even took cover.

"A mother hit the deck with her children," George said. "We're dealing with an inconvenience and loss of business today, but it could've been a loss of life."

Police said they managed to arrest a suspect, who was hiding in the neighborhood. They're still trying to recover a handgun, which may have been discarded. Police asked anyone who comes across that weapon not to touch it, but instead call Crest Hill police.