Illinois mass shooting suspect’s girlfriend is hit with charges after his suicide

Detectives believe Kyleigh Cleveland withheld critical information from them in an effort to prevent them from apprehending her boyfriend, Romeo Nance

Martha McHardy
Friday 26 January 2024 15:35 GMT
Kyleigh Cleveland, 21, the girlfriend of Romeo Nance who is suspected of killing eight people in Joliet, Illinois on Sunday
Kyleigh Cleveland, 21, the girlfriend of Romeo Nance who is suspected of killing eight people in Joliet, Illinois on Sunday (Joliet Police Department)

Police have arrested the girlfriend of Joliet mass murder suspect Romeo Nance for allegedly preventing police from finding her boyfriend after they said he killed seven members of his own family and one other person on 21 January.

Kyleigh Cleveland, 21, was charged with obstruction of justice on Wednesday after she allegedly told police she didn’t know Nance’s phone number as the manhunt was underway.

Police said they first made contact with Ms Cleveland when they were looking for Nance’s three-year-old son after he was not found at either of the two family homes where the shootings took place.

When detectives found the child at a home in Plainfield with Ms Cleveland, the 21-year-old was cooperative with police, and agreed to be questioned, authorities said.

However, detectives believe she withheld critical information from them to prevent them from apprehending Nance.

Ms Cleveland, who is the mother of Nance’s three-year-old son, was ordered by a judge to be placed on home confinement and electronic monitoring.

Police believe Nance went on a deadly shooting spree on 21 January, shooting nine people in the Joliet area, eight of whom were killed.

Seven of the victims are believed to have been related to Nance, police said. The victims were later identified as Nance’s mother, aunt, uncle, brother and three sisters.

Romeo Nance took his own life in Natalia, Texas (REUTERS)

He is also believed to have shot two men at random, including the final victim, 28-year-old Toyosi Bakare.

Investigators do not believe that Mr Bakare was related to any of the other victims.

The ninth man, who was shot in the leg, is also not believed to have been connected to any of the other victims.

Nance later took his own life hundreds of miles away in Natalia, Texas, following a confrontation with law enforcement officials, police said.

Following the shootings, it remains unclear why Nance travelled to Natalia, which is more than 18 hours away from Joliet by road. Illinois authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Nance had no known ties to Texas.

Medina County, Texas, sheriff Randy Brown said he believes Nance was trying to reach Mexico.

“It seems like they [criminal suspects] all head to Mexico,” he said.

Police are now working to establish Nance’s motive for the killings.

“We can’t get inside his head,” said Bill Evans, Joliet’s chief of police. “We just don’t have any clue as to why he did what he did.”

“We may never know the truth or motives,” added Dan Jungles, Will County Sheriff’s Office deputy chief of operations.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden described the killings as “tragic”.

“This tragedy underscores why I am doing everything in my power to keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of those who seek to harm themselves or others,” he said. “It’s why my administration is strengthening the gun background check system and cracking down on gun trafficking through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It’s why I’ve taken dozens of executive actions to strengthen gun safety and end the gun violence epidemic. And it’s why I continue to call on Congress to pass universal background checks and a national red flag law, in addition to other commonsense gun safety measures.

“It is within our power to stop the epidemic of gun violence tearing our communities apart. Congress must act now,” he added.

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