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Man suspected of killing 8 outside Chicago fatally shoots self in Texas confrontation, police say

By KATHLEEN FOODY and TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press
Published: January 23, 2024, 8:18am

CHICAGO (AP) — A man suspected of shooting and killing eight people in suburban Chicago fatally shot himself after a confrontation with law enforcement officials at a gas station in Texas, where he had no known ties, authorities said.

Police in Joliet, Illinois, said on Facebook that at about 8:30 p.m. Monday, U.S. Marshals located Romeo Nance, 23, near Natalia, Texas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio, and that Nance shot himself. His death was announced just hours after Illinois authorities used social media and a news conference to share initial details of the killings there.

Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown said the sheriff’s office received a call Monday about a person suspected in the Chicago-area killings heading into the county on Interstate 35. Brown said he believes the suspect was trying to reach Mexico.

“It seems like they (criminal suspects) all head to Mexico,” which is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of Natalia along Interstate 35, Brown said Tuesday.

Officers from multiple agencies confronted Nance, Brown said. Brown said his office’s only role in the standoff near Natalia was to support other law enforcement agencies at the scene and referred other questions to U.S. Marshals and Joliet police.

Natalia is more than 1,000 miles (1,690 kilometers) from Joliet, where Nance is suspected of fatally shooting eight people at three locations in the Chicago suburbs. The police search for him left neighbors on edge for several hours Monday after police warned he was still on the loose and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities in Illinois previously said they did not know of a motive for the killings, but said Nance knew the victims. The FBI’s fugitive task force had been assisting local police in the search for the suspect, Joliet Police Chief William Evans said.

The victims were found Sunday and Monday at three separate homes, authorities told reporters at a news conference earlier Monday evening.

One of the people killed was found with an apparent gunshot wound Sunday outside of apartments in Will County and pronounced dead at a hospital. He was identified by the Will County Sheriff’s Office as a 28-year-old man originally from Nigeria who had been living in the U.S. for about three years.

Seven other bodies were found Monday at two homes on the same block in Joliet, located about about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) northwest of the scene police discovered first.

Will County Chief Deputy Dan Jungles said he did not have any indication yet of how long the people in the houses had been dead. Autopsies were pending, he said.

“I’ve been a policeman 29 years and this is probably the worst crime scene I’ve ever been associated with,” Evans said during a news conference outside the Joliet homes Monday evening.

Authorities said they also believe Nance was connected to another shooting in Joliet that wounded a man Sunday but would not discuss their evidence.

Curtis Ellis said he lives next door to the man wounded in that shooting and captured it on a surveillance camera aimed at their street.

The footage shows the driver of a red car speaking briefly to Ellis’ neighbor, driving to the end of the block before making a U-turn then stopping and firing nine times. Ellis said he was watching the Detroit Lions play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL playoff game when he heard the shots, saw his hurt neighbor outside and called police.

“That could have been me or my wife in the front yard, which is scary,” Ellis, 56, said. “You haven’t done nothing to anybody, why would somebody just target to shoot you?”

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Evans said the victims found Monday in the houses were family members. Asked if the victims were members of the suspect’s family, Jungles said he could not comment except to say the suspect knew them.

Teresa Smart lives about a block away from where seven of the victims were found and had said she was worried she and her family would not be able to sleep Monday night.

“This is way too close to home,” she said, adding that police cars had been blocking streets throughout the neighborhood.

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