The man accused of fatally shooting eight people near Chicago before fleeing to Texas and killing himself in a confrontation with U.S. marshals was related to most, if not all, of the victims, authorities said Tuesday.
However, it remained unclear why Romeo Nance, 23, allegedly killed seven people at two homes in Joliet, Illinois, and another person in Joliet Township.
“We can’t get inside his head,” Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “We just don’t have any clue as to why he did what he did.”
The shootings in the two homes occurred in the 2200 block of West Acres Road on Sunday, the chief told reporters. The seven victims found at the homes ranged in ages from 14 to 47, Evans added.
“We do know right now that there was a family relationship between the two residences,” he said, naming Nance as a relative to the “vast majority” of the seven victims.
At one of the homes on West Acres, there were five victims: 14- and 16-year-old girls, 20- and 38-year-old women and a 38-year-old man, Evans said.
There were two victims at the second home, a 47-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man, he said. The victims’ identities were not released.
Two of them were found Monday while Will County Sheriff’s deputies were looking for Nance’s red Toyota Camry in connection with two other shootings Sunday, one of which was fatal.
Deputies went to Nance’s last known residence, but nobody answered, according to authorities. The deputies then went to a nearby residence that was connected to Nance.
Evans said the two homes were the “probably the worst crime scene I’ve been associated with” after 29 years in law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office had sought information from the public about Nance’s whereabouts.
Police in Joliet were later informed that he had been located by the U.S. Marshals Service in Texas and that he had shot himself. He managed to elude authorities in the state after stealing Texas license plates from vehicles at a mall and then putting them on his Camry, Evans said.
Nance was found near Natalia, outside San Antonio, around 8:30 pm. local time, police said.
It’s not clear why he went to Texas as Nance did not appear to have any connection to the state, Evans said.
Only one victim has been identified, Toyosi I. Bakare, a 28-year-old Nigerian immigrant who was found shot in the head outside of an apartment complex in Joliet Township. Bakare was declared dead at a hospital, according to authorities.
Will County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Dan Jungles, who spoke to reporters on Tuesday alongside Evans, said Bakare left his home to buy cigarettes at a gas station before he was gunned down. Robbery did not appear to be a motive in the slaying because money was found near the victim after he was shot, Jungles said.
About 10 minutes before Bakare was shot, a 42-year-old man was shot in a leg and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
“Mr. Nance’s reign of terror in our communities in Will County is now over,” Jungles said.
There didn’t appear to be any connection between the shootings at the homes in Joliet and the other two people Nance is accused of shooting, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities on Tuesday said Nance had an extensive criminal history. Will County court records show Nance had at least 19 charges stemming back to 2019, but most were traffic violations.
Attorney Jordan Kielian, who has represented Nance in past cases, said Tuesday that Nance was due in court Feb. 1 in connection with a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm following an alleged road rage dispute.
No one was injured in the January 2023 incident, in which Nance was accused of firing a handgun. Nance had not entered a plea in the case, Kielian said.
While jailed Nance was also charged with battery linked to an incident involving an inmate. He had not entered a plea in that case, Kielian said.
He said his client was bonded out of jail Feb. 21.
The attorney said he was in communication with Nance but would not disclose the last time they spoke. Nance never missed a court date, Kielian said.
Court records show Nance was charged with robbery in 2019, and charged in 2023 with obstructing a police officer and possession of a firearm without the requisite owner’s identification card. The outcome of those cases was not immediately clear Tuesday night.