Ill. officer seriously wounded in grocery store shooting, suspect killed

Police had been trying to take the woman into custody, but she fled and shot at officers inside a store, police said

By Mike Nolan
Lake County News-Sun, Gurnee, Ill.

OAK FOREST, Ill. — An Oak Forest police officer was in serious but stable condition Monday following a shooting Sunday inside a Food 4 Less grocery store in that city in which police exchanged gunfire with a 21-year-old Calumet City woman who later died from her injuries.

State police are investigating the shooting that happened at about noon in the store, at the northeast corner of 159th Street and Central Avenue.

The officer, who identify has not been released, was wounded in an exchange that started a few blocks west of the store when Oak Forest officers were called to help a motorist needing assistance. The woman, Ketura Wilson, later died at a hospital.

The Cook County medical examiner's office, following an autopsy, said Monday that Wilson died from multiple gunshot wounds and ruled her death a homicide.

Jackie Human, who was shopping with her husband at the grocery, said the shooting occurred near the store's delicatessen counter, where they had ordered items moments earlier.

"If we had gotten just one more thing at the deli we would have been right in the line of fire," said Human, of Oak Forest.

Going to the grocery store is a Sunday routine for the couple, and Human said Monday she was still shaken a day after the shooting.

"The thought that something like this can happen, it changes the way you think about things," she said. "I could have gone in the store and never come home."

Police said they initially responded just before 11 a.m. to a retail center in the 6000 block of West 159th Street for a call of a motorist needing assistance.

They were attempting to take a woman, later identified as Wilson, to the hospital for a mental health evaluation but she was able to flee, according to state police, who are investigating the shooting because an officer was involved.

Oak Forest officers followed her to Food 4 Less, where they attempted to negotiate with her, at which point she pulled out a handgun and went inside the store, where she and police exchanged gunfire, according to state police.

State police said the officer suffered a nonlife-threatening injury, and an Oak Forest spokeswoman said Monday the officer remained hospitalized.

Human said just before shots were fired, she heard "what sounded like a fight."

"Then I heard gunshots, a lot of gunshots," she said. "It was intense."

Human said she heard at least 10 gunshots.

"It was repetitive, just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom," she said.

Human said she and her husband and some other customers quickly made their way into a storeroom at the rear of the store.

"We were inside the storeroom for maybe five minutes," she said. "We didn't know what was going on."

At the time of the shooting the store was not overly crowded, but "there were a lot of people with families, with their children, and a lot of elderly shoppers," Human said.

When it was clear that it was safe to leave the storeroom, Human said she walked past the wounded police officer who was on floor.

"He was laying where I had been standing about four minutes earlier," she said. "I keep picturing that officer laying in the spot where I had been standing and it scares the hell out of me."

Human said she and her husband have permits to carry concealed firearms, and both had guns in their possession when they entered the store.

She said that as she waited inside the storeroom, she was bracing herself for a possible encounter with a shooter.

"Thank God that didn't happen," Human said. "That is not anything I would want to do."

Some customers at the store Monday said that while they were aware of the Sunday shooting, it would not deter them from patronizing the store.

"I know that can happen anywhere but I can't not do things like going for groceries because of it," said Audrey Whipple, of Tinley Park. "They have the best prices. Everybody else is too high."

Stan Winters, of Oak Forest, said he thinks the shooting "was just something isolated" and he is not worried about continuing to shop at the store.

"I moved out of the city 10 years ago and this is nothing like being in the city," he said of the prevalence of shootings or other crimes.

Human said she and her husband want to eventually move out of Illinois and in the meantime plan to shop at stores farther southwest of Oak Forest, such as in Frankfort, where she believes crime is less of an issue.

She said she was a victim of a violent crime when she was 10, and that "I have always had the desire to protect myself" and enrolled in firearms training and applied for a concealed carry license when Illinois began allowing it.

(c)2022 the Lake County News-Sun (Lake County, Ill.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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