Local News

Joliet police investigate second homicide in less than 1 week

Suspect remains at large in shooting death of 24-year-old man

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Mary White raises her arm in praise Wednesday, May 16, 2018, while listening to Suzette Williams' prayer at the corner of Sherman Street and Fourth Avenue where Donald Woods was fatally shot.[]

A young man was gunned down on a Joliet street for the second time in the past five days.

Police received a 911 call about
4:51 p.m. Tuesday about a subject having been shot at Sherman Street and Fourth Avenue in Joliet, Deputy Chief Al Roechner said. Police found Donald M. Woods Jr., 24, of Romeoville lying in a parking lot in the 200 block of Fourth Avenue next to a vehicle.

Woods was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m.

Woods appears to be the victim of a homicide, according to a news release from the Will County Coroner’s Office.

Roechner said police need the public’s help with the two reported homicides within a five-day span. Woods’ death follows that of 19-year-old Keonte A. Cook, who died Friday from a single gunshot wound in a Joliet driveway.

“We’re not there when these things occur, so we definitely need help from the people who were there,” Roechner said.

Witnesses told police at the scene that Woods was with other individuals when a male suspect dressed in black walked up to the victim and shot him in the back.

“[He] dropped right there,” Roechner said.

An autopsy performed Wednesday revealed that Woods suffered a gunshot wound, a coroner’s office official said.

The suspect reportedly last was seen running east to the 200 block of Fourth Avenue, through the yards of some homes. He remained at large as of Wednesday afternoon.

An arrest was made at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of Fourth Street, according to Joliet police arrest records. Devontae R. Fox, 25, of the 400 block of South Ottawa Street, was charged with unlawful use and possession of a weapon by a felon. Roechner said Fox was in the area with a handgun, but Fox was not directly involved in the shooting.

Roechner said there were no leads on where the suspect might be Wednesday. The area where Woods was reportedly shot is a “gang area,” Roechner said. Police are investigating that angle.

“Like in most of our cases, there were probably about 20 people in the area when this occurred,” Roechner said. “Unfortunately, no one wants to come forward. We believe there were people out there who know who the shooter is, so we’re really asking for help on that.”

Dietra Jones, Woods’ mother, said Woods leaves behind a 4-year-old son. He also helped to raise a soon-to-be 7-year-old girl as his own.

“He had a great heart,” Jones said. “I’m going to miss him – his personality. He had a beautiful smile, [he was] fun to be around. ... [There was] never a dull moment.”

Woods was a forklift driver and attended Joliet Central High School. He enjoyed playing basketball and Jones said she put him in baseball, when he was younger.

Roechner said there were no updates on the investigation into Cook’s death.

“We’re having a hard time getting people to speak to us about it,” Roechner said.

Family and friends held a vigil in the small parking lot near Sherman Street and Fourth Avenue. More than 50 people gathered to light candles and tie balloons with messages on them that read “Rest easy baby boy,” and “God gave you wings.” Several people stopped and gave Jones a hug.

Maria Hernandez, Woods’ ex-girlfriend and mother of his 4-year-old son, described him as “caring” and “goofy.” She told how he cared for her daughter as if she was his own. His family accepted Hernandez, and they remained close even after she and Woods stopped dating.

Hernandez said she and her kids are taking things one day at a time, but the loss still hit hard.

“My son is not really sure what’s going on,” she said. “He thinks his dad is going to pick him up from school tomorrow. ... My daughter, she’s basically taking it pretty hard.”

Anyone with information about either investigation is asked to call Joliet police at 815-724-2020.