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Joliet shooting victims identified as suspect’s mother, aunt, uncle and siblings

Will County officials Wednesday identified the relationship between suspected gunman Romeo Nance and seven of the eight people killed in Joliet on Sunday as his family members.

The Will County coroner’s office and police identified the victims as Nance’s mother, Tameka Nance, 47; his aunt Christine Esters, 38; his uncle William Esters II, 35; his brother Joshua Nance, 31; his sister Alexandria Nance, 20; as well his 16- and 14-year-old sisters, who were not named.

Officials have offered no motive for the massacre, described as a “reign of terror” at a news conference Tuesday. After killing his family members, police say Nance shot two other men at random. One later died and was identified as 28-year-old Toyosi Bakare, originally from Nigeria.

The other man, a 42-year-old, was shot in the leg and sustained non-life-threatening injuries, police learned. The man’s neighbor, Curtis Ellis, told the Tribune Tuesday the man is back home recovering and needs crutches as his leg heals.

After the shooting spree, Nance fled the city and drove to Texas, police said, where he died Monday night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a confrontation with U.S. Marshals at a gas station. It remains unclear why he traveled to the state.

“I’ve been a policeman 29 years and this is probably the worst crime scene I’ve ever been associated with,” Joliet police Chief William Evans said at a news conference Monday.

The massacre began Sunday afternoon when Nance shot two of his relatives in one home and five in another on the 2200 block of West Acres Road. Sheriff’s deputies found them on Monday, police said.

On Sunday evening, the Will County sheriff’s office received a 911 call that a man was bleeding from the head at the Pheasant Run Apartments in unincorporated Joliet Township. The man was later identified as Bakare, officials said.

While officers investigated that shooting, they learned of the other man shot on the 200 block of Davis Street.

Police reviewed surveillance footage of the Davis Street shooting and saw that the suspect was driving a red Toyota Camry, which led them to Nance. They staked out one of the residences on West Acres Road he was known to occupy, according to police. The bodies of Nance’s family members were discovered after officers observed blood on the front door.

In a statement Wednesday, President Joe Biden expressed sympathy for the victims’ families and emphasized the importance of stronger gun control policies.

“Jill and I are praying for the family members of the eight victims killed in Joliet, Illinois, and for the broader community devastated by these tragic shootings,” Biden said. “This tragedy underscores why I am doing everything in my power to keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of those who seek to harm themselves or others.”

karmanini@chicagotribune.com