Biden says Joliet tragedy underscores need to ‘end the gun violence epidemic’

Joliet man accused of killing mother, siblings in shocking shooting spree

Police at the scene on the 2200 block of West Acres Road in Joliet where multiple people were found shot to death in homes on Monday, Jan. 23, 2024.

Police have confirmed that a Joliet man is suspected of killing his mother, brother, three sisters, uncle and aunt in a mass shooting that has shocked the city and prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to condemn the country’s “gun violence epidemic.”

In a statement Wednesday, Biden said he and his wife, Jill Biden, are “praying for the family members of the eight victims killed in Joliet, Illinois, and for the broader community devastated by these tragic shootings.”

The victims killed in the 2200 block of West Acres Road include Tameka Nance, 47, the mother of Romeo Nance, 23, – the suspect in the shootings – and his sisters Alexandria Nance, 20, and two teens, ages 16 and 14, Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said.

Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans speaks at the press conference to give updates on the West Acres Road shooting at Joliet City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 23rd in Joliet.

Another victim killed was Romeo Nance’s brother, Joshua Nance, 31. Court records show Tameka Nance, a registered nurse, was appointed as a guardian of Joshua Nance after he became disabled from a brain injury.

Other victims killed were Romeo Nance’s aunt, Christine Esters, 38, and his uncle, William Esters II, 35.

Police consider Romeo Nance the only suspect in the mass shooting of his family and two random shootings, one of which led to the death of Toyosi Bakare, 28, formerly of Nigeria. The ninth victim in the incident is a 42-year-old man who suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.

Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles speaks at the press conference to give updates on the eight people fatally shot in Joliet and Joliet Township on Sunday at Joliet City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

“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.”

Biden said he’s proposed “dozens of executive actions to strengthen gun safety and end the gun violence epidemic.”

“It is within our power to stop the epidemic of gun violence tearing our communities apart,” he said. “Congress must act now.”

The statement from Biden marks the second time in less than six months that the president has commented on a tragedy in Will County. The other incident involved the alleged hate crime killing of 6-year-old Wadee Al-Fayoumi in October in Plainfield Township.

Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy has declined to comment on the tragedy and instead referred comments to the police department. D’Arcy and Joliet City Manager Beth Beatty stood alongside police officials at Tuesday’s news conference about the shooting but did not speak.

Nance fled Joliet after the killing of his family, Bakare and shooting the 42-year-old man, police said. Authorities found him Monday in Texas, where he fatally shot himself at a gas station after a brief confrontation with law enforcement.

Joliet police officials said the investigation is “active and ongoing” despite the events in Texas that led to Nance’s death.

School officials in Joliet said Alonnah Nance, 16, was a junior at Joliet West High School and Alexandria Nance was an alumna of the same school who graduated in 2022.

“Words cannot adequately express the sadness that we are feeling right now,” Joliet Township High School District 204 Superintendent Karla Guseman said in a statement. “They just cannot. Our community is grieving this senseless loss, and our hearts are aching for Alonnah, Alexandria, their family, and all of our students and staff who are experiencing such a deep loss and sorrow.”

Guseman said the district is “doing everything we can to support our staff, students and community as we all try to process this profound loss.”

“Alonnah and Alexandria will always remain in our hearts and within the Joliet West Tiger family,” Guseman said.

On Tuesday, Will County Coroner Laurie Summers’ office released the names of five of the seven victims who died in the 2200 block of West Acres Road, but the office has not officially identified the two teens.

Michael VanOver, Summers’ deputy chief coroner, said it is not their policy to release juvenile names, which has been a recent practice sometime after Summers was elected in 2020.

Unlike in Will County, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office does release the names of juveniles who’ve died.

A woman grieves outside the Will County Incident Command Center vehicle in a parking lot along West Acres Road at the scene were multiple people were found dead in two homes on Monday, Jan. 22nd in Joliet.