Retaliation Over Hinsdale South Grad's Shooting a Concern for Apartment Community
Social workers are striving to help the community come together in the wake of 18-year-old Joshua Holmes' shooting death in unincorporated Willowbrook, which they say has aroused a lot of anger.
Twenty-four hours after a fellow resident was gunned down in their apartment complex, members of the Hinsdale Lake Terrace community gathered at the site where it happened.
Stuffed animals were placed on the curb next to where 18-year-old Joshua Holmes fell after he had been shot. White paint covers the spot where the 2012 Hinsdale South graduate's blood had spilled on the pavement.
It was about 6:30 p.m. Monday when neighbors of the apartment complex heard the sound of gunshots. It was a nice night out, with temperatures in the high 60s, so dozens of young people were out enjoying the weather. The basketball court, a few hundred yards from where the shooting took place, was filled with young people shooting hoops.
According to the DuPage County Sheriff's Office, witnesses saw a white four-door vehicle drive into the intersection, and a passenger pulled out a gun and fired several shots at Holmes.
"I saw his body. I drove up there. He was laying there. I saw the bullet shells," said Danny Davis, another 2012 Hinsdale South graduate. He said he had known Holmes, whose nickname was "Savage," for about a year.
"He was cool. Cool person to be around," Davis said.
Although Davis said he does not feel any less safe living there, he said the shooting has changed the way he sees things.
"My eyes have been opened," he said.
Bianca Woods, a resident and teacher at Burr Ridge Middle School, heard the gunshots and people yelling for someone to call 911.
"At first I wasn't sure if (gunshots were) what I heard," she said. "The mother wasn't there, so someone went and got her. When she got there, she was just trying to find out what happened. As they were loading him into the ambulance, she was asking the drivers, 'Where are you taking him? That's my son.'"
Woods said she drove Holmes' mother to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and was with her when she received the news that her son had died.
Residents say security is an issue
Although several of the young people gathered on the sidewalk were hugging with tears in their eyes, sadness was not the prevailing mood of the complex Tuesday night. And neither was fear.
"They're angry," said Betty Starks, a resident of the apartment complex and an Associate Pastor of the Apostolic Church of Austin. "Nobody's scared right now. It'd be better if there was a little fear. When you're scared, you don't take things into your own hands."
Starks has been a resident of Hinsdale Lake Terrace for eight years and is known by many as the unofficial mother of the complex. She said the environment of the apartment complex has changed a lot in the last year.
"It's getting worse. We don't have security...not since July," Starks said. "Something about the budget." Starks said the management at the apartment complex had been working on bringing in security again.
"Just the presence would make a difference," she said.
Holmes was shot at the apartment complex's school bus stop for Hinsdale South and Burr Ridge Middle School students.
Support personnel on site working to keep the peace
Stark's concern that anger about the crime would lead to the desire for payback within the apartment complex was a sentiment echoed by Hinsdale South community liaison Denise Verdun.
"Parents have been coming by, mainly. Parents are concerned. Some are new to the area," said Verdun. "We're just trying to keep the peace. We don't want any retaliation."
Verdun was one of the school's staff members who came to the apartment community's Resource Center to join HCS Family Services in providing support to families and young people needing to talk about what happened.
"There are a lot of of kids who have not slept at all," said Kim Stephens, program director for HCS Family Services in Hinsdale, saying that several of the children nearby when the shooting occurred were in fourth grade or younger. "They don't know how to process it."
Starks joined a group of residents gathered on the lawn next to where Holmes was shot and led them in prayer Tuesday night, encouraging the community to come together.
"We can't lose another one of you," Starks said to the young people who were present. "Let's not fight one another on this. 'Vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord...(The shooter) will be caught ... We refuse to let the enemy come in to take our neighborhood."
A vigil in Holmes' honor is planned for 6:30 p.m. Friday at the site where the 18-year-old was shot.
*Patch will continue to update this story as information becomes available.
**Phone calls to the management at the Hinsdale Lake Terrace apartment complex and the DuPage County Sheriff's Department were not returned at the time of this article's publication.