Man suspected of killing 8 people outside Chicago was related to most of the victims, police say
KATHLEEN FOODY and KEN MILLER
CHICAGO (AP) -- A man suspected of shooting and killing eight people in suburban Chicago this weekend was related to most of the victims, authorities said Tuesday, a day after the 23-year-old fatally shot himself after a confrontation with law enforcement in Texas.
Joliet Police and the Will County Sheriff's Office said investigators believe Romeo Nance shot seven people — most of whom were relatives — at two homes in Joliet on Sunday before randomly shooting two men at other nearby locations. One of those men survived.
The Illinois authorities said there is no evidence to provide a motive for the killings at this point.
"We can't get inside his head," Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans told reporters. "We just don't have any clue as to why he did what he did."
Police did not release the victims' names and said they had not yet determined their exact relationships to Nance. They said the victims included: a 14-year-old girl, a 16-year-old girl, a 20-year-old woman, a 38-year-old woman, a 38-year-old man, a 47-year-old woman, a 35-year-old man and a 28-year-old man.
Nance fatally shot himself Monday evening after U.S. Marshals located him near Natalia, Texas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio, authorities said. His death was announced just hours after Illinois authorities used social media and a news conference to share initial details of the killings there.
Medina County, Texas, Sheriff Randy Brown said the sheriff's office received a call Monday about a person suspected in the Chicago-area killings heading into the county on Interstate 35. Brown said he believes the suspect was trying to reach Mexico.
"It seems like they (criminal suspects) all head to Mexico," which is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of Natalia along Interstate 35, Brown said Tuesday.
Officers from multiple agencies confronted Nance, Brown said. Brown said his office's only role in the standoff near Natalia was to support other law enforcement agencies at the scene.
The Texas Rangers are investigating Nance's death and believe he shot himself, said Lt. Jason Reyes, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, of which the Rangers are part.
Reyes said he could not provide any other information about the circumstances of Nance's death or his confrontation with law enforcement officers, saying his agency was only brought in to investigate after the fact. The Rangers routinely investigate deaths involving law enforcement in Texas.
Natalia is more than 1,000 miles (1,690 kilometers) from Joliet, where Nance is suspected of fatally shooting eight people at three locations in the Chicago suburbs.
The shootings represent the fourth mass killing in the U.S. this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University. The third happened Sunday in another Chicago-area suburb, Tinley Park, where police have charged a man with killing his wife and three adult daughters.
The database defines a mass killing as an attack in which four or more people have died, not including the perpetrator, within a 24 hour period.
Authorities in Illinois previously said they did not know of a motive for the killings but Nance knew the victims. The FBI's fugitive task force had been assisting local police in the search for the suspect, Joliet Police Chief William Evans said.
The victims were found Sunday and Monday at three separate homes, authorities told reporters at a news conference earlier Monday evening.
One of the people killed was found with an apparent gunshot wound Sunday outside of apartments in Will County and pronounced dead at a hospital. He was identified by the Will County Sheriff's Office as a 28-year-old man originally from Nigeria who had been living in the U.S. for about three years.
Seven other bodies were found Monday at two homes on the same block in Joliet, located about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) northwest of the scene police discovered first.
"I've been a policeman 29 years and this is probably the worst crime scene I've ever been associated with," Evans said during a news conference outside the Joliet homes Monday evening.
Authorities said they also believe Nance was connected to another shooting in Joliet that wounded a man Sunday but would not discuss their evidence.
Curtis Ellis said he lives next door to the man wounded in that shooting and captured it on a surveillance camera aimed at their street.
The footage shows the driver of a red car speaking briefly to Ellis' neighbor, driving to the end of the block before making a U-turn then stopping and firing nine times. Ellis said he was watching the Detroit Lions play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL playoff game when he heard the shots, saw his hurt neighbor outside and called police.
"That could have been me or my wife in the front yard, which is scary," Ellis, 56, said. "You haven't done nothing to anybody, why would somebody just target to shoot you?"
Teresa Smart lives about a block away from where seven of the victims were found and had said she was worried she and her family would not be able to sleep Monday night.
"This is way too close to home," she said, adding that police cars had been blocking streets throughout the neighborhood.
Miller reported from Edmond, Oklahoma. Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin; Claire Savage in Chicago; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington; contributed to this report.