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Motive unclear in 8 shooting deaths in Joliet, Illinois, after suspected gunman found dead in Texas

Search for motive continues in Joliet murder spree
Search for motive continues in Joliet murder spree 02:41

JOLIET,  Ill. (CBS) -- Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shooting deaths of eight people in Joliet after the suspected gunman was found dead by apparent suicide in Texas on Monday night.

"We can't get inside his head. We just don't have any clue as to why he did what he did," Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans said Tuesday afternoon of the suspected shooter, 23-year-old Romeo Nance.

Evans said investigators believe the shooting spree began at two homes across the street from each other in the 2200 block of West Acres Road on Sunday, although the seven people who were killed there were not found until Monday morning.

"This incident has had a tremendous impact on the city of Joliet," said Evans. "It's had a tremendous impact on my agency, both mentally and physically."

Relationships of the seven dead

Five people – two girls, ages 14 and 16; two women, Alexandria Nance, 20, and Christine Esters, 38; and a 31-year-old man, Joshua Nance – were found dead in one house at 2212 W. Acres Rd., and two people – a 35-year-old man, William Esters II; and a 47-year-old woman, Tameka Nance – were found dead in the other at 2225 W. Acres Rd., according to Evans and the Will County Coroner's office.

Tameka Nance was Romeo Nance's mother, Christine Esters was his aunt, and William Esters was his uncle. He also fatally shot a brother, Joshua Nance, and three sisters, Alexandria Nance and a 16-year-old and 14-year-old whose names were not released. 

Neighbors said Romeo Nance lived at 2212 W. Acres Rd.

Suspect takes own life in Texas after Joliet murder spree 03:06

"We may never know the truth"

Evans said Nance was related to most, if not all, of the people in the two homes, although their exact relationships with one another and Nance are not yet clear.

"We're still sorting through that," Evans said.

Investigators believe after the shootings on West Acres Road, Nance then shot a 42-year-old man in the leg Sunday afternoon in the 200 block of Davis Street in Joliet. That man was the only victim to survive the shooting spree.

"It was nine gunshots," said neighbor Curtis Ellis. "That's a whole clip that he was trying to load in this guy - and lucky that he just didn't hit a vital organ."

Around 4:15 p.m. Sunday, surveillance video shows a red Toyota Camry associated with Nance passing by a man taking out his groceries. The driver of the Camry says something to the man taking out the groceries - and then drives to the end of the block before making a U-turn, stopping, and firing nine times.

About 10 minutes later, investigators believe Nance shot and killed 28-year-old Toyosi Bakare at the Pheasant Run Apartments complex in unincorporated Joliet Township on Sunday afternoon. Bakare, who was originally from Nigeria and lived in the U.S. for about three years, was found bleeding on the ground from a gunshot wound. He was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives had learned that Bakare had left his home to buy cigarettes at a local gas station when he was shot.

While Will County Sheriff's detectives were investigating Bakare's shooting death, they began a search for the red Toyota Camry Nance was believed to be driving. When their search came up empty, authorities set up surveillance at Nance's last known address on the 2200 block of West Acres Road.

Monday morning, deputies walked to the home where the Toyota's registered owner lived on West Acres Road, and when they got no answer, they went to a house across the street where a relative of the car's owner lived.

Deputies found blood at that home and then went into both houses, where they found a total of seven people dead.

Evans said investigators have not yet found a link between the victims on West Acres Road and the other two shootings, nor have they found a motive for any of the slayings.

"In many cases like this, we may never know the truth or the motives behind these senseless killings," said Will County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Dan Jungles.

Jungles said it's apparent that robbery was not a motive in Bakare's death, noting money was found in the area near his body. Investigators determined Bakare had left his home to buy cigarettes at a local gas station at the time he was killed.

Joliet and Will County authorities discuss murders of 8 people 17:09

Suspect tried to throw investigators off his trail

While investigating the murders on Monday, investigators learned Nance likely was on his way to Texas. 

Investigators believe at some point while he was in Texas, he pulled into a shopping mall parking lot, where he stole the license plates from another car and put them on the Toyota in an attempt to throw investigators off his trail.

Working with federal authorities and other law enforcement officials in Texas, a helicopter was able to locate Nance's car on Interstate 35. The local sheriff's office was notified as Nance crossed from Bexar County into Medina County in Texas.

He later pulled into a Chubby's Travel Center and Valero gas station in Natalia, Texas, where he fled from his vehicle as law enforcement officials arrived on the scene. 

U.S. Marshals followed Nance as he ran from the car and rounded the corner of the gas station.

Officers and federal agents chased Nance, who later shot and killed himself.

"Basically cornered," said Medina County, Texas Sheriff Randy Brown, "and at some point in there, he took his own life."

"Mr. Nance's reign of terror on our communities in Will County is now over," Jungles added. "With so much sadness that surrounds these incidents, it is time for our communities to come together and heal."

Evans said Nance has an extensive criminal record.

Nance's prior arrest records indicated that he was arrested for aggravated discharge of a weapon involving a woman. Court records show Nance was out on bond in connection with that 2023 shooting case and was still awaiting trial.

When asked if Joliet Police had ever been called to the homes on West Acres Road for domestic-related calls, Evans would not say. He would only say that Nance had a long criminal background and was known to police.

Meanwhile, Evans said during the investigation into the Acres Road murders, they were also looking for a 3-year-old who was unaccounted for – but who was later found with family in a nearby community. Police did not say how the toddler was connected to these crimes.

President Biden's statement on shooting

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden released a statement about the crime saying that he and Jill are praying for the family of the eight victims and the community impacted by the shootings. 

"Federal law enforcement agencies assisted local law enforcement with the investigation. This tragedy underscores why I am doing everything in my power to keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of those who seek to harm themselves or others," Biden said. "It's why my administration is strengthening the gun background check system and cracking down on gun trafficking through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It's why I've taken dozens of executive actions to strengthen gun safety and end the gun violence epidemic. And it's why I continue to call on Congress to pass universal background checks and a national red flag law, in addition to other commonsense gun safety measures. It is within our power to stop the epidemic of gun violence tearing our communities apart. Congress must act now."

Suspect dead, but investigation continues into Joliet murder spree 02:44
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