At least 23 shot, 1 killed near Willowbrook after Juneteenth celebration turns violent: police

ByMichelle Gallardo and Christian Piekos and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, June 19, 2023
At least 23 shot, 1 killed, near Willowbrook, officials say
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A Willowbrook shooting left over 20 shot on Route 83 near Honeysuckle Rose Lane, early Sunday, officials said.

WILLOWBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- At least 23 people were shot, and one was killed, near southwest suburban Willowbrook early Sunday morning, officials said.

Battalion Chief Joe Ostrander with the Tri-State Fire Protection District said the shooting took place about 12:30 a.m. on Route 83 near Honeysuckle Rose Lane.

The DuPage County Sheriff's Office gave an update on a Willowbrook shooting Sunday morning.

A large group was gathered in a strip mall parking lot for a Juneteenth celebration that turned violent. Police said an unknown number of suspects fired multiple rounds from multiple weapons into the crowd.

According to sheriff's deputies, they were monitoring the gathering, which began around 6 p.m. in the Hinsdale Lake Terrace vicinity. Police were called away briefly to respond to a 911 call nearby, but deputies heard the gunshots and immediately returned.

"Out of nowhere, there was a major gunfight for like 30 seconds. I'd say, 60 plus rounds. You could tell it was two different groups of people shooting at each other," said witness Bartosz Majerczyk.

Several people were injured while trying to run from the gunfire, police said. Two of those shot are in critical condition, while others suffered what fire officials are calling "graze wounds." The person killed has not yet been identified.

A massive police presence remained on the scene investigating about 9 a.m. Dozens of shell casings littered the parking lot. The strip mall where it happened was still shut down on Sunday afternoon as the investigation into the shooting continues.

Because the shooting happened in unincorporated Willowbrook, the Dupage County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation. A spokesperson said they still have not identified those responsible. No one is in custody.

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"Victims were taken to multiple hospitals in DuPage, Cook and Will counties. The ages and conditions of victims are not available at this time. The motive behind this incident is unclear," said DuPage County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Eric Swanson.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was there when the gunfire erupted.

"Everybody started running. There was a man. He fell on top of me. He had a gunshot wound to his leg. It was like something you can't imagine," she said.

A nurse who was nearby said she ran to help the victims.

"They were shot in their thighs, shoulder," said Dalayvia Whitaker. ""I'm like, 'OK, hold this, press this, give me a sock, let me make a tourniquet from it,' you know?"

Other witnesses also described the chaotic scene.

"It was supposed to be like a Juneteenth celebration; we just started hearing shooting, so we dropped down until they stopped. They just kept going. After that, we literally scattered away," witness Markeshia Avery said.

"We just heard gunshots; at first it was one, but then it was a whole bunch of gunshots. After then we started running like, 'yo.' I looked at my friend, and we took off, running like crazy," said Zaviar Sheikh.

"We were all just out, and, next thing you know shots just kept going off; everybody ran, and it was chaos," another witness said.

Others came to home to a crime scene.

"I saw that they had cops laid out at all the entrances like that; I just got back home. Now they got the place all taped up," said Kyria, who lives nearby.

Bullets went flying through one neighbor's home.

"The way the holes are in my apartment, I don't even know what would've happened," said Twanda Carroll. "It could've been me. I could've gotten shot."

Those living across the street from the scene said this particular strip mall has in recent years attracted similar ad-hoc gatherings.

"It's probably one of these social media things that everyone gets together and balloons into that," said Rick Wagner. "I've talked to the police in past, DuPage County and Burr Ridge, and every time, they said there were going to do something or try to do something about it."

Detectives are interviewing witnesses, and reviewing video footage.

The businesses and area in the immediate vicinity of where the shooting occurred will remain closed until further notice.

The sheriff's office asked that anyone with information call 630-407-2000.

President Joe Biden released a statement on Twitter:

Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson also released statements on Twitter:

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, said in a statement:

"I'm heartbroken to see the news from Willowbrook this morning. We live in a tragic reality where you cannot go to school, go to the grocery store, go to your place of worship, or celebrate holidays like the Fourth of July or Juneteenth without fear of being shot. Change is needed - we cannot allow this to be the status quo.

"I'm thankful for the first responders who attended to the victims last night and will continue to work with local authorities to stay updated on the situation."