Morris shooting: 16-year-old charged in apparent random killing of young mother, stealing car

Manhunt ensued through Morris, Illinois, after apartment complex shooting

ByStephanie Wade, ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Saturday, August 6, 2022 3:46AM
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Beverly Lambert was picking up her 1-year-old son from a caretaker in the apartment complex when she was shot twice in the back of the head.

MORRIS, Ill. (WLS) -- The woman killed in a shooting in Morris, Illinois, Thursday has been identified, and a teenager has been charged in her murder.

The Grundy County Coroner's Office said Friday morning that Beverly A. Lambert, 25, of Shorewood died in the incident.

Lambert was taken to Morris Hospital after the shooting, where she was pronounced dead at 6:55 p.m., the coroner's office said.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Cortez Rice, 16, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the incident, Morris officials said Friday.

He is currently being held at River Valley Detention Center in Joliet and appeared in court Friday.

Both the suspect and victim's families were in court.

Grundy County State's Attorney Jason Helland said Lambert was picking up her 1-year-old son, Jace, from a caretaker in the apartment complex when she was shot twice in the back of the head.

"The shock value of something happening to a 25-year-old woman in Grundy County, I think the community has a ripple impact of it that not only impacts of victim's family, it impacts the entire community," Helland said.

The teen then stole her car, Helland said

"I have never heard of an offender in Grundy County committing a murder at age 16 in history of the county. It just does not happen here," Helland added.

He then fled the scene, prompting a three-hour search by several police departments.

Police responded to the 500-block of Twilight Drive and asked people in the area to shelter in place while they searched for the gunman about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

"A police officer kind of waved to us and he said, 'Just stay there, and came down and said, We have an active shooter. Just remain inside,'" said Mike Ryerson, who lives nearby. "There has been an uptick in violent incidents lately which has always been very unusual for Morris."

Police were able to track down the suspect from license plate reader technology that was installed at the entrance and exit of the community just one month ago.

Using flock camera technology, officers were able to track the suspect leaving the scene of the shooting at an apartment complex off Twilight Drive around 4:30 p.m. and entering another nearby community.

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"And then was being tracked through several cameras, catching him at intersections and they were able to close in," said Stan Knudson, with the city of Morris.

"That was incredible how quickly the shooting occurred from the apprehension it was within a couple hours," Helland said.

A man was taken into custody; police have not provided any additional information on the suspect

Neighbors are saying how rare it is for something like this to happen here.

"It surprised me that it happened. I mean, I grew up in Chicago, and on the South Side of Chicago, that was nothing. But here, this is a very nice area," said Paul Wagner, who also lived nearby.

Helland said the teen will be charged as an adult and could face up to 40 years in prison.

Given the teen's criminal history, his bond was set at $5 million. He will next appear in court on August 18.