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Retired Evergreen Park Special Education Teacher Killed, Another Person Wounded In Dan Ryan Expressway Shooting; 2 In Custody After Chase

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Evergreen Park community is mourning the loss of a beloved former teacher, wife, mother, and grandmother; after an expressway shooting on the Dan Ryan Expressway overnight.

Denise Huguelet, 67, was killed and another person was wounded in that shooting around 10 p.m. Tuesday on the Dan Ryan near Marquette Road, according to Illinois State Police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Police said a state trooper was traveling on the expressway and heard gunfire, and pulled over to make sure their vehicle hadn't been struck. Two other vehicles then pulled up alongside the trooper, and said they had been shot at.

Four people were in one of the vehicles, Huguelet was shot and killed, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Two people were in the other vehicle, and one of them suffered a graze wound.

Huguelet was a special education teacher at Central Middle School in Evergreen Park, according to Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124. She retired in 2015 after 24 years on the job.

She had just celebrated her 45th wedding anniversary with her husband, Michael, earlier this month.

As a teacher, we are told Huguelet left a lasting legacy.

"I wouldn't have got to school without her, honestly, giving up wasn't an option," said Walter Melancon. "She was like everybody's mom."

Standing outside the school where he says she changed his life, Melancon told CBS 2's Tara Molina he wouldn't be who he is today without her.

"Growing up, I had anger issues. I had trouble focusing," Melancon said. "She changed that for me."

Huguelet was remembered as an incredible teacher who made the difference for so many during her more than two decades at Central Middle.

"Even when I graduated, she still checked up on me," Melancon said.

Evergreen Park School District 124 Supt. Dr. Jenna Woodland paid tribute to Huguelet Wednesday morning in this email to the school community:

"To the Staff of Evergreen Park School District,

"Our Evergreen Park family mourns the loss of Denise Huguelet. Mrs. Huguelet worked in the district for 24 years as a special education teacher at Central Middle School, serving students with the most significant disabilities. Her passion for students and her dedication to the community showed in all aspects of her work.

"Mrs. Huguelet's nature with kids was kind, yet firm, to ensure that students were taught the independent skills they needed to be successful in their futures. She cared deeply about the academic needs of students, and the social and emotional well-being of every students' needs.

"An Evergreen Park native, she was a dear friend to many colleagues who will remember her character as pure, honest, fair and kind. She was an incredible woman whose memory will always be with us.

"Please keep Denise and her family in your thoughts and prayers during this time. We will provide details of her service as information becomes available.

"With Sympathy,

'Dr. Woodland."

Our Evergreen Park family mourns the loss of Denise Huguelet. Mrs. Huguelet worked in the district for 24 years as a...

Posted by Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124 on Wednesday, August 18, 2021

With the help of a helicopter, police were able to chase a vehicle seen speeding away from the scene of the shooting to 61st Street and Ashland Avenue in West Englewood, where troopers were able to disable the vehicle and take two suspects into custody. A gun was recovered.

"You're on the expressway," Melancon said. "You shouldn't be getting shot."

His message for the life taken too soon - the woman who changed his – was: "I love you and thank you for everything. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for making me a better person."

Illinois State Police said they have responded to investigate 157 reported expressway shootings on the Chicagoland area Cook County expressways to date this year, as of Wednesday. The table below includes a shooting was reported on the Dan Ryan at 31st Street on Wednesday afternoon.

2021 Expressway Shooting Numbers Listed By Expressway Location

I-90/94 (Dan Ryan):






I-94 (Bishop Ford):


I-55 (Stevenson):


I-90/94 (Kennedy):




I-94 (Edens):






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