JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Joliet police late Sunday were searching for two men who shot more than a dozen people, killing one man and one woman, at a Halloween party Sunday just after midnight.
Authorities said that around 12:39 a.m., a Will County Sherriff’s sergeant heard 10 to 12 gunshots in the area of Jackson and Walnut streets area while on patrol. The sergeant arrived on the scene and saw about 100 people fleeing from the area, police said.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Shot, Wounded In Calumet Heights; One Suspect Also Shot
Sheriff’s deputies found that the party had been in the backyard at 1018 E. Jackson St., and the shooting happened near a DJ booth that was set up in the backyard. Initial estimates indicate that there was close to 200 people attending the party.
The two people who were killed were identified Monday as Holly Matthews and Jonathan Ceballos, both 22 and of Joliet. Each suffered a single gunshot wound, according to the Will County Coroner’s office.
JOLIET TOWNSHIP VICTIMS:
Holly Matthews and Jonathan Ceballos, both 22 years old of Joliet, IL
Both were pronounced dead from sustaining single gunshot wounds at the Halloween party mass shooting we reported on Sunday @cbschicago https://t.co/dsHtv77mGK https://t.co/DuKjPKydqE pic.twitter.com/X487J2z3vy
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) November 1, 2021
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra spent the day talking with witnesses – who were shocked and horrified, and for whom the reality was barely sinking in late Sunday.
“You could just tell something was going to happen,” said a party guest named Nathan who was friends with Ceballos. “I never thought my friend was going to die.”
The backyard Halloween party spiraled quickly into a nightmare.
“I just heard people screaming, saying: ‘There’s bodies on the floor! People are getting hit!’” Nathan said. “I seen people come out with like blood on their hands.”
The gunfire sent everyone running for their lives.
“There was people running in the forest, just jumping the fence. I see maybe like 10 people – they were trying to go through people’s yards,” said neighbor Ezequiel Herrera.
As police investigated Sunday, witnesses were still trying to understand how it all happened.
“People were showing up that we literally had no idea who they were,” said a guest named Vanessa.
“Even the host of the party was like, ‘I don’t know these people – like where did they come from?’” Vanessa’s sister, Valerie.
Vanessa and Valerie – who are friends of the party host – did not want to reveal their last names out of fear of repercussions. But they shared a photo of happier times from the night before it turned deadly.
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A picture sent to me from before the Joliet Halloween party descended into deadly chaos
The witnesses I spoke to say the party started small before numbers grew out of control
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) October 31, 2021
“You just hear like these popping sounds,” Vanessa said.
“It was a whole wave of people – they just fell backwards on top of everyone,” added Valerie.
They realized quickly that it was no Halloween prank.
“All you see is everybody on the floor, and then when everybody starts to get up and they’re like scrambling over each other trying to get out, I see there’s a guy in front of me on the floor,” Vanessa said. “Everybody was running over him and stomping over him.”
Unable to shake what they saw, the sisters said both healing and answers will take time.
“Physically I’m OK,” Vanessa said. “Mentally, I’m still shaken.”
“If I like, let my mind linger on what happened, then I will probably break down,” added Valerie. “But I don’t want to, so I’m just trying to keep it together.”
Meanwhile, Nathan mourned Ceballos and the life that was cut short.
“We used to play soccer back in the day . He was a great person; a beautiful person. It’s sad he had to die that way,” Ceballos said. “He was a good soccer player, but he could have had a good future in that.”
Witnesses said there were two shooters at the party and the shooting occurred from an elevated position on a porch looking down over the crowd.
At least a dozen people were taken to nearby hospitals, but we know more were injured. Parra has spoken to others who suffered from cuts and bruises from the chaos and just chose to go home.
The first shooter is described as an average-sized Hispanic male with facial hair – wearing a red hoodie, a black flat billed hat, and dark pants. The second shooter is described as an average sized light-skinned Black or Hispanic male wearing a yellow hoodie and ski mask.MORE NEWS: Mayor Lightfoot Directs City Law Department To Drop Lawsuit Accusing Chicago Police Union Of Calling For Work Stoppage By Defying COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Rule
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Will County Sheriff’s Detective Danielle Strohm at (815) 727-8574 at extension 4930, or by email. Anonymous tips can be submitted on the Will County Sheriff’s website. People may also contact Will County Crime Stoppers by telephone at (800) 323-6734, or visit their website.