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Bullets rattle Joliet DCFS office, school

Boarded-up windows at the Joliet office for the Illinois Department of Human Services, 1619 W. Jefferson St., seen on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. A shooting reported on Saturday, May 21, 2022, caused damage to the windows to the building.

What appears to be random gunfire has rattled an elementary school and a children services agency in Joliet in recent weeks, although police see no indications the shootings are related.

Since May 15, a 17-year-old was wounded in a shooting outside Meadow View Elementary School, 2501 Mirage Ave., windows were damaged by gunfire at the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services office, 1619 W. Jefferson St., and the Meadowview Elementary School building also was damaged by gunfire.

Gabriel Rodriguez-McSwine, 16, of Joliet, was arrested on a charge of attempted murder in the May 15 shooting that wounded a 17-year-old. As of Tuesday, officers are still investigating the two other shootings, Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said.

There are no indications the three shootings are connected, English said.

Boarded-up windows at the Joliet office for the Illinois Department of Human Services, 1619 W. Jefferson St., seen on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. A shooting reported on Saturday, May 21, 2022, caused damage to the windows to the building.

No one was injured in the shooting reported on Saturday at the Joliet DCFS office or the one Monday at Meadowview Elementary School, English said.

Besides the shootings at Meadowview Elementary School on May 15 and Monday, there have been no other shootings in the past reported at the school property, English said. The school has a Plainfield address but is within the city limits of Joliet.

There also have been no other shootings reported in the past at the DCFS office other than the one reported on Saturday, English said. DCFS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The front windows to the Joliet DCFS office were were boarded up on Tuesday morning. A sign on the door said the office is closed temporarily. Children’s toys inside the office were visible from the windows.

A window to the Joliet office for the Illinois Department of Human Services, 1619 W. Jefferson St., seen on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. A shooting reported on Saturday, May 21, 2022, caused damage to the windows to the building.

Shots were fired at the DCFS office about 2:22 a.m. on Saturday, and police discovered the front windows and doors were damaged by gunfire. Officers recovered multiple spent shell casings in the parking lot.

Over at Meadowview Elementary School, Betty Jeropke and her husband, Bob Jeropke, who live near the school, both expressed concerns about the shootings that have occurred recently in the area.

Betty Jeropke said she’s lived in the area with her husband for about 22 years and never knew of any shootings.

“This is a total shock,” she said.

Bob Jeropke said the area where Meadow View Elementary School is located does not seem dangerous.

“It never has been,” he said.

Lane Abrell, superintendent of Plainfield District 202, which oversees Meadowview Elementary School, said school officials have been working with Joliet police on the incidents.

“We have asked them [and they have agreed] to have a more frequent presence on the property and in the school,” Abrell said.

Police have agreed to disperse people loitering or hanging out during off-school hours on the Meadowview Elementary School property, Abrell said, and no trespassing signs will be posted during off-school hours.

“We will also be significantly increasing the number of surveillance cameras on the perimeter of the school,” Abrell said.

English encourages anyone with information on the recent shootings to contact the Joliet Police Department 815-724-3020.

If they wish to remain anonymous, they can also contact Crime Stoppers of Will County at 800-323-6734 or at crimestoppersofwillcounty.org.