‘Reign of terror’: Joliet police say mass shooting suspect killed 8 people, including 2 teenage girls and multiple relatives

JOLIET, Ill. — Joliet police described a “reign of terror” in the southwest suburban community this weekend, when they believe one man killed eight people, including two teenage girls and multiple relatives.

Romeo Nance, the 23-year-old man wanted in the fatal shootings of eight people in the Joliet area, died from a self-inflicted gunshot Monday night after being pursued by U.S. Marshals in Texas.

While many of the details of the case remain unclear, including the motive, police said at a news conference Tuesday they believe Nance killed seven relatives in two homes before killing another man and injuring another, both at “random,” on Sunday.

The Will County Coroner Laurie Summers identified five of the victims found in the homes as: Christine Esters, 38, Tameka Nance, 47, William Esters II, 35 and Joshua Nance, 31, all of Joliet, and Alexandria Nance, 20. The teenage girls, ages 16 and 14, were not identified as of Tuesday afternoon.

Summers said the victims all died of apparent homicide and the final cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results.

The deadly saga began when the Will County sheriff’s office received a 911 call on Sunday early evening that a man was on the ground bleeding from the head at the Pheasant Run Apartments in unincorporated Joliet Township. The man, who later died, was identified as Toyosi Bakare, a 28-year-old man originally from Nigeria.

The sheriff’s office said detectives had learned Bakare had left his residence to go buy cigarettes when he was gunned down by the suspect. While deputies were securing the crime scene, they learned that another shooting occurred earlier on the 200 block of Davis Street, the sheriff’s office said.

The investigation led the sheriff’s office deputies to the Nance’s known residence, where they found five people dead in one home and two in another home in the 2200 block of West Acres Road on Monday, Joliet police said.

The victims appeared to have died from gunshot wounds, officials said.

Residents of the typically quiet and safe neighborhood where the victims had been found said they’d been gripped with fear Monday before the suspect died.

Carpenter Ruben Dunaven shoveled snow Tuesday morning in his driveway. He hadn’t heard about the shooting until a friend texted him Monday night that the area near his house was closed off.

“It’s surprising,” Dunaven said. “This is supposed to be the nicer part of Joliet.”

The search for Nance ended after the Medina County sheriff’s office in Texas said they received a call that he was heading into the county Monday night. Police said Nance died at about 8:30 p.m. after shooting himself with a handgun following a confrontation with law enforcement at a gas station in Natalia, a town about 30 miles southwest of San Antonio.

The Medina County sheriff’s office declined to comment on the case, saying the Texas Department of Public Safety is handling the investigation. It’s unclear why Nance headed for Texas.

“I’ve been a policeman 29 years and this is probably the worst crime scene I’ve ever been associated with,” Joliet police Chief Williams Evans said at a news conference Monday night, before Nance was found. The homes’ front yards were surrounded with caution tape that flapped gently as rain drizzled down Tuesday morning.

Nataly Contreras, 13, said her family scrambled to lock all the doors at their home on Madison Street, which is adjacent to the crime scene.

“It’s just crazy that it happened so close to us,” said her brother, 19-year-old Gustavo Contreras.

Another resident on Taylor Street said she found out about the shooting when she heard police sirens blaring.

“It was so scary. When they caught the guy, I was so relieved,” said the resident, who didn’t give her name. “I could finally let my dog out in our yard.”

The victim who was identified, Bakare, was found by police with blood coming out of his head, Dan Jungles, deputy chief with the Will County sheriff’s office, said Monday night. He was transferred to Ascension St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet where he later died.

In January 2023, prosecutors charged Nance with aggravated discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm, according to Will County court records.

Nance has three other open cases in Will County, charging him with criminal damage to government property, obstruction of a peace officer and battery. Nance was also cited for traffic violations in Will County 10 times between late 2019 and early 2023, court records show.

In January 2023, Nance was charged with unlawful discharge of a weapon after a road rage incident in which he shot a woman multiple times in Joliet. He was released from jail pending trial.