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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

23 shot, 1 fatally, at a Juneteenth celebration in Illinois

Investigators at the scene of a shooting in Willowbrook, Ill., Sunday, June 18, 2023. At least one person was killed and 19 others wounded in a shooting just after midnight Sunday at a large celebration in a shopping mall parking lot southwest of Chicago, officials said.

By Amanda Holpuch and Emma Bubola

At least one person was killed and 22 others wounded in a shooting just after midnight Sunday at a large Juneteenth celebration in a strip mall parking lot in Willowbrook, Illinois, southwest of Chicago, officials said.

Deputies from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office heard gunfire around 12:30 a.m. and “responded to an area where a large gathering of people was happening,” said Eric Swanson, the deputy chief of the sheriff’s office, at a news conference Sunday.

He said that some victims took themselves to hospitals and others were transported by emergency medical workers. He declined to provide the victims’ ages and conditions.

Swanson said the motive behind the shooting was unclear. It was also not clear what types of firearms were used. No suspects were in custody.

Juneteenth is an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s and became a federal holiday in 2021.

The celebration in Willowbrook began around 6 p.m. Saturday near an apartment complex, the sheriff’s office said in a statement Sunday afternoon. It was unclear if the event was organized or sanctioned by nearby businesses, which could not be reached for comment.

Some police officers were monitoring the event when they received a call about a fight nearby about 12:25 a.m., the statement said. The officers were heading to the fight when they heard gunshots and then returned to the celebration.

“An unknown number of suspects fired multiple rounds from multiple weapons into the crowd,” the statement said.

The sheriff’s office said 22 people were wounded and one person was killed by gunfire. Several other people were injured trying to flee.

The shooting took place in a strip mall parking lot on Route 83, near Honeysuckle Rose Lane. The sheriff’s office said that businesses in the area would remain closed until further notice.

Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood treated four victims, a spokesperson for the hospital, Carol Eggers, said.

Two people were brought there from other hospitals, including one patient who was still hospitalized Sunday afternoon and one who was discharged. The two other patients, who had taken themselves to the hospital, were also released.

Twanda Carroll, a 51-year-old hairstylist and resident of the Hinsdale Lake Terrace apartments just north of the shopping center, returned to Willowbrook Sunday morning from a stay with relatives in Wisconsin.

Two bullets had entered her apartment, one shattering her living room window and the other her bedroom window. The first bullet went through her clock and into a back wall, and the second traveled through her closet and into the kitchen wall.

She said she had been in Wisconsin for her mother’s birthday, and her daughter joined her there from Arkansas. Carroll had planned to come home Saturday night but decided against it to spend more time with her family.

Being away from the apartment at the time of the shooting was a “miracle,” Carroll said.

She wiped tears from her eyes as she asked: “What if? What if we had been there? Either my grandkids or me and my girl.”

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