At least 12 people shot at Halloween party in Joliet Township. Two of them died, both 22 years old.Tom Schubaon November 1, 2021 at 6:09 pm

A police car sits outside a house Sunday evening where more than 12 people were wounded, two of them fatally, in a shooting early Sunday at a Halloween party in Joliet Township. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The gunfire erupted early Sunday near a DJ booth set up in the backyard of a home, authorities said. Witnesses reported two gunmen opened fire “from an elevated position on a porch looking down over the crowd” of more than 200 people.

Two people in their early 20s were killed and at least 10 other people were wounded when shots were fired at a Halloween party in Will County early Sunday.

The two fatalities were both 22-year-old Joliet residents: Holly Mathews and Jonathan Ceballos, according to the Will County coroner’s office. Autopsies performed Monday found they each died of a single gunshot wound.

The shooting erupted about 12:40 a.m. near a DJ booth that was set up in the backyard of a home in the 1000 block of East Jackson Street in Joliet Township, according to a statement from the Will County sheriff’s office.

Witnesses told detectives that two gunmen opened fire “from an elevated position on a porch looking down over the crowd” of more than 200 people.

A patrol sergeant who was in the area heard as many as 12 gunshots ring out near Jackson and Walnut streets and began investigating, the sheriff’s office said. The sergeant then saw over 100 people rushing east on Jackson, and he was directed to the home.

Police officials ultimately found over a dozen people suffering from gunshot wounds in the backyard and at nearby residences, the sheriff’s office said. As authorities were investigating, additional shots were heard in the area.

Two of the victims succumbed to their wounds, while four others suffered injuries that were thought to be life-threatening, the sheriff’s office said.

News of the Halloween gathering had spread on social media, attracting a larger crowd than what the organizers had expected, according to Elizabeth Arias, a neighbor who said she was a relative of the people who threw the party.

Several neighbors knew something wasn’t right when they saw parked cars lined both sides of the streets in what is typically a quiet neighborhood. At least three people said they had called the police to report loud music and ask for crowd control. The party organizers also called the police, according to Arias, who spoke to them earlier in the day.

Police arrived but were “just out here waiting for them to leave,” Arias said.

“This could’ve been avoided,” said Arias, whose son and niece were at the get-together.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Police tape blocks access to the house where more than 12 people were wounded, two of them fatally, in a shooting early Sunday at a Halloween party near the 1000 block of Jackson Street in Joliet Township.

Arias’ son told her that organizers had shut the music off and told people that the police were on their way in an attempt to get people to leave. But that didn’t happen.

Another woman who lived near the event said she heard the gunshots as she laid in bed. When she got to her porch she saw a chaotic scene of a stampede of young people running, leaving behind crushed red cups and beer cans.

“It was crazy, kids running everywhere screaming. But police were here, they were on it,” the woman said.

Arias and her neighbor took in some of the rattled partygoers who were seeking shelter.

“You could hear more shots being fired,” Arias said. People were running through a wooded area near the home, using their cellphone’s flashlights to see where they were going. Some even jumped over a fence. “It was so scary … It was something out of the movies.”

Arias said she had never seen anything like what happened Sunday morning.

“That’s why I refuse to move because it’s so quiet here,” she said.

Another woman said she had moved to the area three years ago from the West Side of Chicago to get away from gun violence.

“This is the first time” something like this happened, she said. “This is crazy.”

One of the suspected shooters was described as a Hispanic male with facial hair and a medium build who was seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, a black flat-billed hat and dark pants, the sheriff’s office said.

The other suspect, who donned a ski mask, was described as a male — possibly Hispanic or Black of a light complexion — with a medium build, the sheriff’s office said. He was seen wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt.

The sheriff’s office is seeking further assistance identifying the shooters. Anyone with information, including cellphone photos or video of the party, should contact Detective Danielle Strohm at (815) 727-8574 or [email protected].

Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous can submit a tip to the sheriff’s office’s website or contact Will County Crime Stoppers at (800) 323-6734 or its website.

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