Joliet once again was rocked by violence – this time with an apparent murder-suicide in which a man, a woman and two young children were killed.
The four were found slain about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday in their house on Whitley Avenue near Wilson Avenue. Police said they were called to the home after receiving a report of people who were shot.
The Will County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Jacquelon Gaskin, 28, her boyfriend, Brandyn Lee, 34, and their children, 1-year-old Giovanni Lee and Gianna Lee, 6. All four were killed “in what appears to be a domestic incident,” according to the coroner’s office.
Herbert Brooks Jr., a Will County Board member and pastor, is the father of Terrance Brooks, who is the husband of Gaskin’s mother, Rusha Brooks. Herbert Brooks said his family is “just shaken” by the tragedy.
“I think it’s just a very, very difficult time, the times we are living in,” he said.
Herbert Brooks said his church, St. John Missionary Baptist in Joliet, is scheduled to perform a service March 8 for Eugene Holmes, 27, who was shot and killed Feb. 25.
“I’ve been dealing with a lot of gun violence,” he said.
Several other shootings have taken place in Joliet in recent weeks.
On Feb. 21, 13-year-old Dirksen Junior High School student Javier Cayetano was shot to death, and two other 13-year-olds were wounded near the corner of Morgan and May streets. Two men, ages 20 and 30, were wounded in another shooting incident the next day near the corner of Fourth Avenue and Union Street.
Thursday’s apparent murder-suicide also is the second one to occur in Joliet in the past year and a half. On Aug. 28, 2017, 41-year-old Celisa Henning and her 5-year-old daughters, Makayla and Addison Henning, died of gunshot wounds.
On Thursday, police said officers were called to the Whitley Avenue residence after receiving “a report of subjects shot.”
“Officers arrived on scene and located a male, female and two young children deceased on the second story of the residence,” police said. “Detectives are thoroughly investigating the scene to determine what occurred.”
Officers still were at the home Thursday morning. They carried bodies out on stretchers to a coroner’s van parked in the alley behind the house.
Terrance Brooks said Lee killed Gaskin and the children before taking his own life.
“Kill yourself next time, don’t take anyone with you,” Terrance Brooks said.
Rusha Brooks said her daughter and Lee were in the midst of ending their relationship.
“I believe they were breaking up because my sister said she received a Snapchat from her, ‘Hey,’ [and a picture of] packed boxes, like good riddance to bad rubbish,” Rusha Brooks said.
“Maybe that was the trigger.”
Rusha Brooks said if she had the chance to talk to her daughter again, she would encourage her to get away from Lee.
“I would tell her leave or come here, or tell me what’s going on if something’s wrong,” she said. “ ‘Do you feel threatened or do you feel like your life is in jeopardy?’ ”
The tragic deaths have affected many people, Rusha Brooks said, including her 6-year-old daughter, who was close with 6-year-old Gianna.
“It’s going to be real hard in my house,” Rusha Brooks said.
“She was loved by a lot of people.”