Authorities: Fight in line at pretzel store led to Oakbrook Center shooting
An argument between three men standing in line at a pretzel shop two days before Christmas resulted in a shooting that left one of the men and four bystanders with gunshot wounds at the Oakbrook Center shopping mall, prosecutors say.
Steve L. Lane, 29, and Tyran Williams, 32, both of Chicago, are facing multiple felony charges in connection with the Dec. 23 shooting at the mall in Oak Brook. They appeared at a bond hearing Wednesday morning.
"The allegations that these two men opened fire in a crowded mall of between 15,000 to 20,000 people, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, are evidence of an unconscionable degree of violence and a complete and utter disregard for public safety," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said at a Wednesday news conference.
Lane, of the 6900 block of Sough Cregier Avenue, is charged with aggravated battery-discharge of a firearm. He is also charged with four counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm toward a person and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Williams, of the 7200 block of South Fairfield Avenue, is charged with five counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm toward a person and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
Lane could face up to 30 years in prison under the most serious charge against him, and Williams could face 15 years in prison.
The third man has been identified by authorities, but they have not released his name. They are making arrangements to speak with him, authorities said.
The shooting happened around 5:44 p.m. in the Nordstrom department store wing.
According to Berlin, Lane and the third man "in a blue puffer coat" entered the mall, visited a store and then went to the pretzel shop.
The third man argued with Williams while they were standing in line.
Assistant State's Attorney Rob Willis said at the bond hearing for Williams that the argument related to comments made on social media that were perceived as disrespectful.
Then Williams and Lane fired 9 mm handguns at each other, prosecutors said. Berlin said 12 shots were fired.
Williams was hit four times. A 43-year-old woman, a 25-year-old woman and a 47-year-old woman were struck once each in the lower body, and a 57-year-old man was grazed. An 18-year-old woman injured her foot while trying to escape.
All the women were taken by ambulance to hospitals, with the 25-year-old requiring surgery on her foot. The man drove himself and reported the wound later.
Berlin said witnesses told mall security and Oak Brook police they saw Lane run toward the Nordstrom store. They also said he had used a teal-colored handgun. A teal-colored handgun was found near the store, and Lane's DNA was found on it, according to Berlin.
Two weeks earlier, Lane had a photo of a teal-colored gun on his cellphone, prosecutors said.
A Taurus Model 26 handgun was found near Williams, and his DNA was found on it, according to Berlin. He said a witness saw Williams drop the gun after he was injured.
DuPage County Judge John Kinsella Kinsella set bail at $1 million apiece for Williams and Lane. Williams appeared in court in a wheelchair. Each man would need to post $100,000 to be freed before trial and would have to wear a GPS monitor and stay home except for medical, legal and religious worship purposes.
Williams has four children and works for a dispatching company. He is also working to open a restaurant with some of his relatives, his attorney, David Gaeger, told the judge. Gaeger said he believes Lane instigated the shooting. Williams has a conviction on a drug case.
Lane's attorney, Gus Kostopoulos, said Lane has two children and a third on the way. Kostopoulos said his client works for a communications company and has no criminal convictions.
Berlin praised the work of law enforcement officers and the DuPage County sheriff's office forensic laboratory.
"The fact that these crimes occurred right before Christmas did not slow down or deter investigators from doing what they do best -- protecting the residents and visitors of DuPage County," Berlin said.
Oak Brook Chief James Kruger praised his officers and those from other agencies who came to help.
"We had two other officers that arrived on scene and rendered aid to one of the defendants (Williams), and undoubtedly it saved his life at that moment," Kruger said. He also said that because Oakbrook Center is an open-air mall, "it was extremely difficult terrain to try to secure."
The mall was locked down until almost midnight as police searched the stores for a suspect. Many shoppers had taken refuge in stores when they heard the gunfire.
Berlin stressed that people should feel safe continuing to shop at the mall.
"It is an extremely safe place for people to shop at," Berlin said. "This is an isolated incident and certainly not indicative of what happens in Oak Brook every day."