Man slain in Willowbrook-area mass shooting was a ‘happy-go-lucky’ young father of 2

Reginald Meadows died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Twenty-two others were wounded, DuPage County officials say, and no one is in custody.

SHARE Man slain in Willowbrook-area mass shooting was a ‘happy-go-lucky’ young father of 2
Willowbrook balloons released shooting victims

A few dozen neighbors met Monday near a Willowbrook-area shopping center parking lot to release balloons in memory of the 23 victims of a shooting early Sunday during a celebration of the holiday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A father of two who was a “smiling, happy-go-lucky person” was killed early Sunday in a mass shooting at a shopping center parking lot near Willowbrook.

Reginald Meadows, 31, lived in an apartment next to the shopping center, at Route 83 and Honeysuckle Rose Lane, where about 200 people gathered Saturday night for a Juneteenth celebration.

The celebration turned violent when gunfire erupted, killing Meadows and wounding 22 others, according to the DuPage County sheriff’s and coroner’s offices.

A few dozen neighbors met Monday evening to light candles and release balloons near the shopping center.

Community members and faith leaders gather to pray near the scene where one person was killed and at least 22 people were wounded when gunfire erupted early Sunday at a Juneteenth celebration in a strip mall parking lot near Willowbrook, Monday, June 19, 2023. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Community members and faith leaders gather to pray near the scene where one person was killed and at least 22 people were wounded when gunfire erupted early Sunday near Willowbrook.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Crystal Allen, who was friends with Meadows’ mother before she died, said she learned of his death Monday morning.

“My son was his best friend growing up. He called me and told me it was Reggie, I could not believe it,” said Allen, adding that he was a “smiling, happy-go-lucky person.”

Neighbors said there have been other Juneteenth parties the past few years in the same space without incident. But this year, the crowd was bigger, with many attending from outside the community.

Sheriff’s deputies in the area heard the gunfire just before 12:30 a.m. Sunday and responded, the sheriff’s office said.

Reginald Meadows

Reginald Meadows

Provided

The wounds ranged from grazes to serious injuries, said Joe Ostrander, battalion chief of the Tri-State Fire Protection District. He said two people were in critical condition.

Victims were taken to hospitals in DuPage, Will and Cook counties, authorities said. Several arrived at hospitals on their own.

It was unclear what prompted the shooting or how many people were being sought. No one was in custody. Authorities did not disclose the ages or conditions of the victims.

Cornell Lewis, 52, had just returned home from his son’s wedding about 10 minutes before the shooting.

He walked over to the party to find a friend, but as he was about to turn a corner into the parking lot, he heard the first gunshots ring out.

Lewis ran across the street and lay on the ground behind a car.

“There was a whole bunch of shots, so I just ducked down and came and laid beside [a car] until it was over with,” Lewis said.

He moved to the apartment complex about six years ago, saying the neighborhood has always been fairly quiet.

“We’re mostly family oriented around here. Everybody kind of knows each other,” Lewis said, but he acknowledged that “there’s nothing for the kids to do” in the area.

He and other neighbors suggested the community build a larger playground or add a teenage outreach program. A neighborhood community center is currently being rebuilt.

“We need to find some kind of way out of this, and it’s not going to be easy,” Lewis said. “I was looking on the news and there were shootings all over the country that day, so what are we going to do? These guns — we got to get the guns away from them.”

neighbors balloons shooting victims

Neighbors say previous Juneteenth celebrations went off without incident. Some suspect people from outside the community may have joined the party. Sheriff’s deputies were nearby when shots were fired about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. They responded immediately.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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