Waukegan Police in Illinois opened fire on a car occupied by an unarmed young Black couple that killed one and wounded the other.
The shooting prompted the mayor to plea to residents to remain calm despite the ongoing civil unrest after the shooting deaths of Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, the suffocation of George Floyd, and the near-fatal shooting of Jacob Blake that left him paralyzed.
Marcellis Stinnette, 19, was killed, and Tafarra Willams, the mother of his baby, was wounded.
Mayor Sam Cunningham said he is close personal friends with the grieving families of the couple shot on Tuesday night (October 20) in the Chicago suburb, which prompted outrage and plans for a large protest.
"This is tough on Waukegan. This is tough on this community," said an emotional Cunningham, who in 2017 became Waukegan's first African American mayor. "I know these families personally. To be able to speak to them about this, yes, it hurts. It just doesn't hurt me, the police department — it hurts Waukegan, Illinois."
Cunningham said Stinnette was the grandson of Josie Stinnette, a woman he lived across the street from and grew up with Williams' mother, Clifftina "Tina" Johnson.
"Yes, I'm nervous. I'm nervous because there's a lot of uncertainty out there, there's a lot of rumors flying around,” the mayor said. I'm nervous for Waukegan. We've seen this play out throughout this country. It just rips through communities and it takes years to rebuild."
Williams survived bullet wounds to her stomach and hand.
"She said, 'Mama, they just shot us for nothing,'" Johnson said to reporters. "My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn't put her hand up, she said, 'Mama, I would be dead.”
Williams was in the passenger seat when she was shot. Stinnette died in the driver seat.
Waukegan Police Department Commander Edgar Navarro said the shooting occurred before midnight on Tuesday when an officer went to investigate a "suspicious vehicle" that pulled away when he approached.
Navarro said a second officer spotted the car and pulled it over.
"That officer exited his vehicle and the vehicle that he was investigating began to reverse toward the officer," Navarro alleged. "The officer then pulled out his duty weapon and fired into the vehicle that was reversing. Both occupants were struck."
No weapons were found in the car.
Navarro declined to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting. He said the officer who initially approached the car and the one who opened fire have each been placed on administrative leave and that the investigation has been turned over to Illinois State Police.
Navarro gave two news conferences on Wednesday. Outside the police department became chaotic when friends and relatives of Stinnette and Williams began interrupting him, yelling, "He's lying!" and, "Why'd you shoot them?"
"If it comes out where there was something that happened, where we did something wrong, we will deal with it," Cunningham said. "I hope this doesn't cause us to be at a point where you distrust the city or the police or each other. I hope it's a time that we can stand together and say, 'We're going to find out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, and make our decision based on that."
Photo: Getty Images