teenager was found shot to death and a woman was trampled in the ensuing chaos Sunday morning outside a costume party in north suburban Lake Forest after an argument broke out among partygoers, police said.
Authorities, who were aware of a large, loud party of more than 100 people in the 1300 block of West Estate Lane East that started to swell after 11 p.m. Saturday, had been to the home in the moments immediately before the shooting, said Sgt. Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
“Lake Forest (police) became aware that there was a large party at this residence and they were doing some extra patrols, but they were not on a call specifically at the house,” Covelli explained. “They just increased their presence and, sure enough, while they were out there, they heard shots fired. They were on scene essentially immediately because they were in the close vicinity when it happened.”
The fatal shooting took place shortly after midnight, authorities said, and neighbors said that was only about an hour after people in various Halloween costumes started arriving. Covelli said he could not divulge what the argument that led to the shooting was about.
Covelli identified the victim as Shaft D. Wilson, 19, of the 1600 block of Argonne Drive in North Chicago.
As people ran from the party after the shooting, Covelli said, a 20-year-old woman from Waukegan also was injured.
“She was treated and released from an area hospital with injuries consistent with being stepped on and trampled during the large crowd fleeing the scene,” Covelli said.
On Sunday, as more than a dozen investigators continued to mill around the usually quiet street — it doesn’t even have sidewalks — neighbors discussed their theories on what may have happened during the party.
Pete Luthy, who grew up in Lake Forest and for the past seven years has lived in a home near where the party was held, spent part of the morning speaking with a couple who also live in a nearby home, theirs with a view of the yard where the shooting occurred.
“He said it was just surreal,” Luthy said, recalling his earlier conversation with neighbors. “And I imagine with what they may have seen, with views of the crowds outside, that’s true. We all sort of surmised that the shooting was outdoors because it was so easy to hear, rather than if the shooting was inside someone else’s home.”
Police confirmed Wilson was found outside.
Luthy, who has two dogs, boxers named Mario and Collette, got home from dinner about 10 p.m. Saturday and took them for a walk about 11 p.m. That’s when he noticed cars all along the main street, which is a good distance from the home where the party took place.
He saw a long line of cars and noted many had Wisconsin license plates. Luthy’s crowd estimate matched what police said, and Covelli also confirmed most of the guests were wearing Halloween costumes.
“(Police) may have been concerned about how many people were there,” Luthy said. “If there had been 100 people there, it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. Most were young people in costume.”
Luthy said the “streams of people” kept coming during the next hour and he was surprised by the size of the party, given the relatively small size of the house. In that neighborhood, he said, a large party would be 30 to 40 people. Also during his walk, he noticed multiple police cars and saw officers pointing flashlights into a few vehicles.
“It just seemed like they were aware that something could’ve been a problem. I was encouraged by the police to go back in my house and I was glad I did, later on, when the gunshots went off,” he said.
Luthy had locked up the house and was settling in for the night when he heard the gunshots. He estimated he heard 10 to 20 shots – so many that although he first thought it was a gun, he then second-guessed himself and thought maybe it was fireworks, he said.
“Then people were rushing back to their cars. I heard some crying, one sounded like a young woman crying and obviously she was upset by what happened,” Luthy said.
Luthy said he used to run into members of a family who lived in the house where the shooting took place, until they moved away some six to eight months ago. That was a family who rented the home, he said, but it wasn’t clear whether the current occupant owns or rents the home, Covelli said. Covelli said a woman currently lives in the home.
An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Monday, Covelli said. Investigators said although an arrest had not been made, the shooting wasn’t random and there was no reason to believe anyone in the community was in danger.
A police department employee on Sunday said she could not remember the last time there was a fatal shooting in the community of about 20,000 where the average home costs about $1 million, according to a 2014 Tribune article that attributed the figure to the North Shore Barrington Board of Realtors.
The police employee performed a quick, informal search and determined there has not been a homicide in Lake Forest for more than a decade. The shooting the police employee remembered as the most recent happened in May 2001, more than 16 years ago. According to Tribune archives, that slaying was a murder-suicide outside a Lake Forest mansion.
Dalia Kouchtirev, 34, worked at the estate of Edward Byron Smith Sr., and Kouchtirev’s ex-husband — against whom she had a police order of protection — told Kouchtirev he wanted to pick up clothing for their children. With her children safely out of state with her parents, Kouchtirev met him outside the estate in the 100 block of Lake Road, where he shot and killed her. About five blocks away, her ex-husband Edix Campos, 40, of Zion, later was found in a vehicle with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Luthy, who said he has lived in Lake Forest off and on since the 1960s, said it is just not something you often hear of.
“For this town, it’s kind of an unprecedented event — and certainly for the neighborhood,” he said.
Police ask that anyone with information about Sunday’s homicide call Lake Forest Police at 847-810-3818 or Lake County CrimeStoppers at 847-662-2222.