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Juneteenth celebration horror: 23 shot, 1 fatally, at Illinois event

The shooting unfolded in a parking lot in Willowbrook, Illinois.

June 18, 2023, 4:47 PM

At least 23 people were injured, one fatally, when gunfire erupted early Sunday at a Juneteenth celebration in suburban Chicago, authorities said.

The shooting unfolded about 12:30 a.m. in the parking lot of a strip mall in Willowbrook, about 23 miles west of Chicago, according to the DuPage County Sheriff's Office.

PHOTO: Investigators look over the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill., June 18, 2023.
Investigators look over the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill., June 18, 2023.
Matt Marton/AP

The gunfire erupted during a large gathering of several hundred people to commemorate Juneteenth, Battalion Chief Joe Ostrander with the Tri-State Fire Protection District told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV.

Victims were taken to multiple area hospital with gunshot wounds, according to the sheriff's office. One person was pronounced dead and at least two were in critical condition, Deputy Chief Eric Swanson of the DuPage County Sheriff's Office said at a news conference.

PHOTO: Investigators talk with a person at the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill, June. 18, 2023.
Investigators talk with a person at the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill, June. 18, 2023.
Matt Marton/AP

No arrests have been announced.

A motive for the shooting is under investigation.

PHOTO: Investigators look over the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill., June 18, 2023.
Investigators look over the scene of an overnight mass shooting at a strip mall in Willowbrook, Ill., June 18, 2023.
Matt Marton/AP

Sheriff's deputies had been monitoring the annual Juneteenth celebration when they responded to a 911 call of a fight breaking out nearby, the sheriff's department said. While deputies were investigating the report of the fight, they heard gunshots and immediately returned to the Juneteenth celebration, authorities said.

"An unknown number of suspects fired multiple rounds from multiple weapons into the crowd," police said in a statement.

In addition to those shot, several victims were treated at area hospitals for injuries they suffered attempting to flee the area, according to the sheriff's office.

Detectives were combing through security video and witness cellphone video Sunday afternoon in hopes of identifying suspects, authorities said.

Witnesses described a scene of panic with people scattering in all directions, seeking cover from the barrage of gunfire.

"It was supposed to be like a Juneteenth celebration; we just started hearing shooting, so we dropped down until they stopped. They just kept going. After that, we literally scattered away," witness Markeshia Avery told WLS-TV.

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