Chicago Suburb Rocked Over Weekend
A massive shooting that left 24 people injured, one of them fatally, erupted after a large crowd gathered at a strip mall parking lot in Willowbrook, Illinois, to celebrate Juneteenth over the weekend.
The incident, which occurred around midnight Saturday evening, signaled yet another instance of fearful gun violence that has recently plagued the state.
While the motive for the attack remains unconfirmed, many of the victims were reported to have sustained gunshot wounds while attempting to flee from the perpetrators.
Witness Markeshia Avery branded the scene as one of sheer terror and desperation. She said that, “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.”
As shots rang out, Bartosz Majerczyk, another witness, described it as a “major gunfight for like 30 seconds” between “two different groups of people.”
The DuPage County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and attempted to survey the aftermath of what appeared to be over 60 rounds fired from at least one AK-47. Shell casings littered the parking lot as authorities remained at the scene until 9:00 a.m. the next day. Many of the victims are currently in critical condition.
Residents nearby the scene of the shooting have reported similar Juneteenth festivities in the past and some have even spoken to local police in an effort to avert any potential danger. Rick Wagner said, “I’ve talked to the police in [the] past, DuPage County and Burr Ridge, and every time, they said there were going to do something or try to do something about it.”
Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker declared gun violence “a public health emergency” in a statement released shortly following the tragedy. He expressed his unwavering commitment to “banning these dangerous weapons and making our state safer for everyone.”
Chicago Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson, whose city recently experienced its most lethal Memorial Day weekend in eight years, offered his condolences to the victims’ families and urged his constituents to “address gun violence in our city and neighboring communities.”
The details of the tragedy remain unknown; however, one thing is certain: gun violence is a pressing problem in both Illinois and the country as a whole.