Questions linger one year after deadly mass shooting


Reginald Meadows, 31, was killed during a June 18, 2023, mass shooting in a strip mall parking lot near Willowbrook where people had gathered to celebrate Juneteenth.
Courtesy of Darren Meadows

One year after his brother died during a mass shooting near Willowbrook, Darren Meadows is still searching for answers.

A crowded Juneteenth celebration turned chaotic when gunfire rang out shortly after midnight on June 18, 2023, in a strip mall parking lot near Kingery Highway and Honeysuckle Rose Lane.

Reginald Meadows, a 31-year-old father of two, was killed, and more than 20 others were injured.

Investigators with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office recovered multiple handguns and more than 100 shell casings from the parking lot, along with video footage of what happened.

One man has been charged in connection with the shooting, but no one has been arrested for Meadows’ death.

DuPage County is trying to help residents in a nearby apartment complex heal from the trauma and get access to services. But the sheriff’s office has remained mum about the investigation, leaving family members such as Darren Meadows frustrated.

“Honestly, I feel like my brother has been neglected,” Meadows said as he reflected on the last 12 months. “My frustration is really high. There’s answers that need to be told … I don’t need my brother’s murder to be swept under the rug.”

Investigators look over the scene of the mass shooting that left one person dead at a strip mall near Willowbrook in June 2023.
Associated Press

Celebration turns deadly

Witnesses described seeing hundreds of people, including a few deputies keeping tabs on the event, in the Somerset Plaza parking lot in the hours before the shooting.

The same deputies were responding to another call nearby when they heard gunshots ring out in the strip mall parking lot around 12:25 p.m. Cellphone and surveillance video captured the sound of the gunshots and the chaos that ensued as people ran for cover.

Investigators believe multiple people fired weapons that night.

 
Signs at the entrances to Sommerset Plaza this year warn against trespassing and large gatherings.
Alicia Fabbre/afabbre@dailyherald.com

An Aurora man, Anthony Mothershed, was arrested in October and charged with two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He has not been charged with Meadows’ death.

Prosecutors claim Mothershed was standing with a group of friends by a beauty shop when he began firing a .45 caliber handgun into the crowd. They have not said why the shooting started. Investigators have said they believe multiple people fired weapons that night.

Anthony Mothershed

DuPage County sheriff’s officials did not respond to requests for comment and denied a Freedom of Information request seeking police reports and 911 calls. In the denial, the sheriff’s office pointed to a DuPage County judge’s order barring the release of any records.

https://www.dailyherald.com/20240614/crime/wrongful-death-lawsuit-filed-nearly-a-year-after-dupage-county-mass-shooting/

A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed last week against the owners BCD Liquors and Five Star Pantry, both located in the strip mall. Ten others who were injured in the shooting also filed lawsuits against the two stores. The lawsuits allege both stores stayed open past their 11 p.m. closing time that night and sold alcoholic beverages and, by doing so, “contributed to the shooting.”

Call to action

The mass shooting, which drew national attention and social media posts from President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, put a spotlight on the area many know as Willowbrook Corner, the apartment complexes that neighbor the strip mall.

DuPage County officials held meetings with social service agencies and other community leaders to discuss needs for the area. Through partnerships and a commitment of $850,000 in county funding over three years, those same agencies are expanding programming where possible.

The Community House, a social service agency that has long served the area, was able to hire an additional social worker this year thanks to the partnership. Since January, the agency has provided roughly 600 therapy sessions to more than 50 people, said Dan Janowick, executive director of The Community House.

“With strong partners like DuPage County, (Burr Ridge) School District 180, the YWCA and a coalition of other nonprofit organizations we are working to continue helping the community heal from that day,” he said.

In the wake of the deadly shooting last summer near Willowbrook, DuPage County officials and community leaders discussed the need to provide social service programming for the area where the shooting occurred.
Courtesy of DuPage County

DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy added the county has secured $1 million in state and federal grants to add sidewalks and lighting in the neighborhood. Last week, the county board discussed awarding a grant to HCS Family Services so it could buy a refrigerated truck for use at its food pantries, including one in Willowbrook.

But, despite the progress, frustration remains.

Since the shooting, the county and social service agencies have asked for office space at the complex to make programming more accessible to residents. Though the Avanath Capital, which managers Hinsdale Lake Terrace Apartments, has said they would make space available, there is no timetable and a grand opening for a new clubhouse at the complex was once again postponed Friday.

“DuPage County has been working hard to bring resources to the Hinsdale Lake Terrace community,” said DuPage County Board member Lucy Chang Evans, whose district includes the apartment complex, which has buildings to the north and west of the strip mall. “I am very disappointed that the owner of the housing community, Avanath Capital, has been a barrier to allowing these resources in.”

A representative for Avanath could not be reached for comment.

 
Darren Meadows says he is still seeking answers about his brother’s death last summer. The family has not yet seen police reports from the June 2023 mass shooting, he said.
Steve Zalusky/szalusky@dailyherald.com

Remembering Reginald

Darren Meadows says his family plans to host a private celebration to remember his brother later this month.

“He was everything to me and to his kids,” Meadows said of his brother.

Meadows hopes his brother’s death prompts more awareness of gun violence — not just in the city but in the suburbs.

“It’s not just in urban areas,” he said.

Like others, he wants to see more social services available to underserved areas such as the Hinsdale Lake Terrace Apartments.

“We need more resources for little kids,” said Meadows, who lives in Bolingbrook.

Chicago activist Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef plans to host a community vigil to mark the first anniversary of a fatal mass shooting at a strip mall near the Hinsdale Lake Terrace Apartments in Willowbrook.
Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago activist Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef said he is organizing a community gathering for 4 p.m. Wednesday in the strip mall parking lot. The event will include a prayer vigil and some activities for children.

“We want to be sure those names and those families are not forgotten,” Yosef said.

Anyone with information about the shooting can contact the sheriff’s office at (630) 407-2400.



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