Two people were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded when two gunmen opened fire at a raging Halloween party in Illinois, authorities said.
Half of the nearly 200 revelers at a Halloween bash in Joliet outside Chicago ran for their lives from the home when 10 to 12 gunshots rang out at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
“Witnesses indicated to detectives that there were two shooters at the party,” deputies said in a statement Sunday. “The shooting occurred from an elevated position on a porch looking down over the crowd.”
One of the shooters, believed to be a black or Hispanic man, was wearing a yellow hoodie and a ski mask when the shots rang out. The gunfire outside the home erupted near a DJ booth set up in a backyard packed with almost 200 partiers.
More than 12 people were wounded and rushed to hospitals, including four with life-threatening injuries. Two others were pronounced dead and were not immediately identified by authorities, but relatives told WLS-TV they were both 22 years old.
One of the victims, Holly Matthews, was studying to become an arborist at Joliet Junior College and had gotten engaged just two weeks ago. She went to the party with two friends late Saturday after going to another Halloween gathering in Frankfort, her mother said.
Matthews and her friends were getting ready to leave when the shooters opened fire. Jonathan Ceballos, another 22-year-old partier, was also killed, WLS-TV reported, citing witnesses at the scene.
“He was a great dude,” a friend who identified himself only as Nathan told the station. “Straight-A dude, great at sports – just overall in general, just a genuinely good person.”
It’s unclear what led the gunmen to shoot up the house party and detectives were still at the scene later Sunday collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. Authorities now want the public’s help in identifying the shooters, particularly if anyone has photos or video from the Halloween gathering.
“Just a young girl in a costume for a Halloween party,” Matthews’ father, Stephen, told WLS-TV of his late daughter. “Lost her life for no reason, absolutely no reason.”
The party was initially intended for a group of roughly 50 family members and friends, relatives of the hosts told the Chicago Tribune.
One man at the party, Junior Sandoval, told the newspaper shots were fired after people on a balcony started flashing gang signs near the DJ booth.
“I threw my girlfriend to the floor and fell onto her,” Sandoval recalled. “When the gunfire stopped, we took a run for it. We were getting trampled and everything.”
The bash grew out of hand after people started posting on social media about it, relatives of the hosts said.
“It got really packed with random people we did not know,” Valerie Alvarez told the Tribune. ““Even the host of the party was like, ‘I don’t even know these people, where did they come from?’”
Alvarez and her siblings said the hosts were not affiliated with any gangs. Alvarez’s aunt, Elizabeth Arias, said she called cops an hour before the shooting and complained about cars lining the street and loud music. Cops responded and “peace was restored,” according to a call log cited by the Tribune.
“They drove by, they saw everything,” Arias told the newspaper. “Now we have two people dead.”
Of the 200 guests at the party, investigators had only spoken to about 50 of them as of midday Sunday, Will County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Dan Jungles told the Tribune.