What’s happening in Joliet mass shooting investigation

Police still working ‘methodical investigation of this very complex case’

Police walk along West Acres Road at the scene were multiple people were found dead in two homes on Monday, Jan. 22nd in Joliet.

Authorities are still investigating the motive and events surrounding a shooting spree that claimed the lives of the entire Joliet family, as well as the life of a former citizen of Nigeria in the outskirts of the city.

Although the mass shooting on Sunday, Jan. 21 concluded with 23-year-old Romeo Nance — the only suspect identified by police — reportedly killing himself about 1,200 miles way in Texas, the tragedy took a new turn with the arrest of his girlfriend, Kyleigh Cleveland-Singleton.

Prosecutors have charged the 21-year-old woman, who is the mother of Nance’s child, with obstruction of justice. The charge alleged she attempted to prevent the apprehension of her boyfriend by falsely claiming she did not know his phone number.

In response to questions about Cleveland-Singleton’s case, Joliet Police Sgt. Dwayne English said that despite of the criminal complaint lodged against her, the investigation “remains open and ongoing.”

“Our detectives and evidence technicians continue their methodical investigation of this very complex case,” English said.

The tragedy has left Joliet in shock and led to renewed calls from U.S. President Joe Biden for Congress to pass universal background checks and a national red flag law. Residents of the neighborhood where the mass shooting occurred told The Herald-News the incident was devastating and shocking.

“I’m kind of shocked about it because I didn’t know Joliet would be like this to be honest. I moved from one town to another town, and I’m kind of nervous and scared because there are children around here,” said Amber Pajaeu.

“I’m telling you, I’ve got two kids – an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old. We moved out of the city to get away from that,” said Dan Burns, another resident, who moved to Joliet from Chicago.

Police consider Nance the suspect involved in the fatal shooting of seven of his family members in two separate homes in the 2200 block of West Acres Road.

Those victims include Nance’s mother, Tameka Nance, 47, his brother, Joshua Nance, 31, and his sisters Alexandria Nance, 20, Alonnah Nance, 16, and Angelique Nance, 14. The other victims are Romeo Nance’s aunt, Christine Esters, 38, and his uncle, William Esters II, 35.

The shootings on West Acres Road appear “domestic in nature,” police said.

The eighth victim is Toyosi Bakare, 28, a formerly of Nigeria, who was shot in the head while attempting to buy cigarettes at a gas station in the Preston Heights area of Joliet Township. The ninth victim, a 42-year-old man, suffered a non-fatal gunshot wound to the leg in the 200 block of Davis Street in Joliet.

Police consider the latter two shootings “random but connected.”

A resident who lives across from one of the homes where multiple victims were found shot dead along 2200 West Acres talks to a mail man on Tuesday, Jan. 23rd in Joliet.

Officials speak out for victims

Biden, Illinois State Sen. Rachel Ventura and Karla Guseman, superintendent of Joliet Township High School District 204, and many other officials mourned the tragic loss of life earlier this week.

Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans called the incident “probably the worst crime” he’s dealt with in his 29 years in law enforcement. Evans said the incident had a “tremendous” mental and physical impact on his department.

English called the mass shooting “arguably the most heinous crime our city and our department has handled.” Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles said Nance carried out a “reign of terror” and he asked for the communities to come together and heal.

“Many cases like this, we may never know the truth or the motive behind these senseless killings,” Jungles said.

In a statement, Ventura said she reflected on the “necessity of preemptive assistance to avert such tragedies and the profound impact they leave on the community.”

She said Will County has organizations and hotlines that address domestic violence and mental health issues. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should call 988, and they should call 911 if there is an immediate violent threat, she said.

“It’s imperative that we support our neighbors and loved ones. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please seek assistance. Remember, you are not alone,” Ventura said.

Criminal history of Romeo Nance

Before the mass shooting, Nance had three felony cases filed in Will County. His fourth and last case was the first-degree murder charge filed over the mass shooting. The case was closed because of Nance’s death.

The first felony case from 2019 resulted in Nance pleading guilty to unlawful possession of marijuana as part of a plea deal. That deal included the dismissal of charges of theft and robbery. His conviction in that case was stayed as part of his probation, which he successfully completed in 2022.

The other felony case, which had yet to go to trial, concerned a Jan. 3, 2023 incident where Nance was charged with firing a gun at a woman who was driving a Buick Enclave in Joliet. Nance’s attorneys contended he was involved in a “road rage incident” and he was being chased after by the alleged victim, who possessed a firearm, in the incident.

Nance was brought to jail on Jan. 26, 2023, on an arrest warrant that carried a $100,000 bond.

Nance was then charged with a misdemeanor offense involving his arrest before he was taken to jail. He was later charged with another misdemeanor offense for allegedly battering an inmate at the jail, records show. Nance was also charged with another felony case for allegedly damaging a cell door.

An online search of court records regarding Nance in DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake, Kendall, Kankakee and Grundy counties did not show any criminal cases filed against him. A spokesperson with the Cook County Circuit Clerk’s Office was unable to find a criminal record of Nance in their system.

In a statement on Thursday, the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice refuted false claims by critics blaming the SAFE-T Act for Nance’s release from jail last year.

The cashless bail provision did not go into effect until Sept. 18, 2023, nine months after Nance had been jailed in the 2023 shooting case.

The organization, which has advocated for the abolishment of cash bail, pointed out that Nance would’ve been eligible for detention under the SAFE-T Act with no ability to pay his way out of jail based on the charges in the shooting case.

A bail bond deposit sheet filed in Nance’s 2023 shooting case showed Cleveland-Singleton had posted 10% of the $100,000 bond amount needed to free him jail on March 10, 2023.

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice said both the new and old pretrial system would not have allowed the denial of Cleveland-Singleton’s release from jail based on her obstruction of justice charge.

“Moving forward, should [Cleveland-Singleton] violate the conditions of her pretrial release, the court has the power to take her into custody,” according to the organization.

A spokesperson for Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said his office will not be able to provide a response on Friday to questions regarding the $100,000 bond in Nance’s 2023 case, the SAFE-T Act and the statement from the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice.

The cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act was initially set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, but that was halted by the Illinois Supreme Court in the wake of legal challenges from Glasgow and numerous other prosecutors who sued to stop cashless bail. The supreme court issued a ruling on July 18, 2023 that upheld the new cashless bail system.

Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans gives a press conference along West Acres Road at the scene were multiple people were found dead in two homes on Monday, Jan. 22nd in Joliet.