I’m not a big fan of the word “Juneteenth.” Mostly because it’s not really a word. What it represents, however–the day slaves learned they were free–is something we should all want to celebrate and remember.
But in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook, their attempt to celebrate that event went more than a little sideways as 23 people were shot, one fatally.
One person was killed and 22 more were wounded by gunfire at a “peaceful Juneteenth gathering” in Unincorporated Willowbrook overnight, according to the DuPage County Sheriff.
Police and fire officials were called to the area of Honeysuckle Rose Lane and Route 83 at approximately 12:25 a.m. Sunday.
There was a gathering near Hinsdale Lake Terrace that began around 6 p.m. and police were in the area monitoring the celebration.
DuPage County deputies were nearby when they heard the gunshots and responded. They were told a fight had broken out before the gunfire erupted.
Officials say an unknown number of suspects fired multiple rounds from multiple weapons into the crowd. Along with the 23 gunshot victims, several other people were injured attempting to leave the area.
Let’s be honest, even though this doesn’t have a body count like we tend to argue means a mass shooting in people’s minds, this one had enough carnage going on that I have no problems acting like it’s a little different from a lot of the ones we’ve covered over the years.
Sure, it’s not Parkland or Uvalde, but it’s bad enough.
And yes, this is what should have been a celebration. It’s not the first time we’ve seen such carnage in the Chicago area during a celebration. After all, where is Highland Park again?
Frankly, I’d be hesitant to frequent any celebration in that area at this point, which is a shame.
These are supposed to be happy occasions, moments that can bring people together. That shouldn’t lead to this. Unfortunately, it did.
So just what happened?
We don’t know. Witnesses simply say they started hearing shooting and either hit the ground or made a run for it. We don’t know if this was an actual attempt at a mass shooting or some kind of altercation that turned deadly. We don’t know if it was something else entirely.
What we do know, though, is that this is Illinois. This is a state that requires permits in order to lawfully purchase a firearm and has waiting periods along with red flag laws, all regulations purportedly intended to prevent this kind of bloodshed.
I guess we see how that worked out.
Needless to say, though, there are still a lot of questions waiting for answers, including who could have done such a thing and why. My guess is that this was the result of a gunfight between two rival factions. The reason for this is mass shooters tend to stick around for the police to respond. Gangs don’t.
Yet we’ll have to wait for the police to give us specifics to see if my speculation is right.
What we know for certain is that a lot of people are hurting right now and one family is mourning the loss of a loved one. Pray for them, if you’re so inclined. They’ll need all the help they can get.