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1 Dead, 23 Shot in Violent Juneteenth Celebration in Chicago Suburb.

Deadly Shooting Erupts at Juneteenth Celebration Near Chicago

Twenty-three people were shot, and one person is dead after a large crowd gathered in a strip mall parking lot southwest of Chicago to celebrate Juneteenth over the weekend. 

Authorities said they were monitoring the gathering, which began around 6:00 p.m. Saturday in Willowbrook, Illinois, before an unknown number of suspects opened fire shortly after midnight, ABC 7 reported. Sheriff’s deputies left the area to respond to a 911 call nearby, but they heard gunshots and immediately returned to the parking lot. 

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

Many of the victims were shot as they tried to run from the gunfire. Two of the victims are in critical condition, while others sustained “graze wounds,” according to officials. The person killed in the shooting has not yet been identified.  

Bartosz Majerczyk, another witness, told ABC 7 that it appeared that “two different groups of people” were exchanging gunfire.

“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,” Majerczyk said. 

Shell casings littered the parking lot as authorities remained at the scene until 9:00 a.m. Sunday. The strip mall closed for the day as law enforcement conducted an investigation. DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Eric Swanson said the motive behind the shooting is still unclear. 

People who live across the street from the scene of the shooting said the strip mall parking lot has attracted large gatherings before. 

“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 [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 — who signed a bill banning dozens of rapid-fire rifles and pistols earlier this year — released a statement on the deadly shooting, calling gun violence “a public health emergency.”  

Pritzker added that he remains “committed to banning these dangerous weapons and making our state safer for everyone.” 

Chicago Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson, whose city just experienced its most deadly Memorial Day weekend in eight years, offered his condolences to the victims’ families, adding that “we must remain committed to addressing gun violence in our city and neighboring communities.”

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