AR-15-style rifle recovered from car of Joliet mass shooting suspect

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

A Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle was recovered from a vehicle in Texas that was driven by a suspect in the Jan. 21 mass shooting in Joliet, police said.

The weapon was found in the backseat area of the Toyota Camry driven by Romeo Nance, 23, of Joliet, said Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles. The Texas Rangers in Hondo, Texas, transferred custody of the rifle to the sheriff’s office Jan. 28, he said.

The Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle was the only weapon recovered from the vehicle, Jungles said.

Neither Jungles nor Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English would confirm if the rifle was used in the Jan. 21 mass shooting of Nance’s family. Jungles referred questions to Joliet police. English said he couldn’t provide further information because the investigation is still open and active.

Nance used a 9mm ghost gun in the fatal shooting of the eighth victim in the mass shooting, Toyosi Bakare, 28, a former citizen of Nigeria, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head at Pheasant Run Apartments in Joliet Township, Jungles said.

A ghost gun is privately made firearm with no serial numbers, making them difficult to trace by law enforcement.

The firearm was also the same one Nance used to take his own life following his confrontation with law enforcement in Texas on Jan. 22, Jungles said.

A photo of a red Toyota Camry with a license plate of Q73 0412 released by the Will County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities said the vehicle is connected to a fatal shooting in Joliet Township.

The Toyota Camry used by Nance in the Bakare incident was the same one he used to flee to Texas, Jungles said. The license plate on the vehicle was registered to Nance’s aunt, Christine Esters, 38, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.

Esters was one of the seven victims whom Nance is suspected of killing on Jan. 21 in the 2200 block of West Acres Road.

The six other victims include Nance’s mother, Tameaka Nance, 47, his brother, Joshua Nance, 31, and his three sisters, Alexandria Nance, 20, Alonnah Nance, 16, and Angelique Nance, 14. Nance’s uncle, William Esters II, 35, was killed as well.

Photos of the victims sits on the porch of their home from Romeo Nance mass shooting on Thursday, Feb. 8th 2024 in Joliet.

The discovery of the homicides Jan. 22 began with reports of two seemingly random shootings Jan. 21.

The two shootings may have occurred sometime between 4 and 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 21. One of them took place in the 200 block of Davis Street in Joliet, while the other involved Bakare’s death at Pheasant Run Apartments.

A 42-year-old man had suffered a non-fatal gunshot wound to the leg in the Davis Street incident.

Once detectives realized the same Toyota Camry was used in the two shootings, they were able to develop Nance as a suspect and conducted “saturation patrols” in an attempt to find the vehicle and Nance.

When detectives could not find the vehicle, they set up surveillance in the 2200 block of West Acres Road in Joliet in the hopes the Toyota Camry would appear, police said.

After detectives were unable to find the vehicle and its movements were not considered active, information about the vehicle was publicly released by the sheriff’s office.

“It was at this point that we believed that Mr. Nance had fled the Will County area and was no longer a danger to the public,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Detectives attempted to contact the owner of the vehicle at one of the homes on West Acres Road but received no response, police said. When they went to another residence on the same street associated with Nance, they saw blood outside the door along with bullet holes.

Detectives made entry into the home and discovered two bodies. After notifying Joliet police of their discovery, they entered the other residence and discovered five more bodies.