Melissa Boatman didn’t know
Feb. 5 would be the last day she would see her longtime friend Bruce Carter.
Boatman, 36, of Bolingbrook said she stopped by Carter’s home at 213 S. Des Plaines St. in Joliet that evening to pick him up so they could go to a gas station and then to a tobacco store. Afterward, they talked for a few minutes and she dropped him off at his home, she said.
On Feb. 6, Carter, 38, died from multiple gunshot wounds after he was killed by a Joliet police officer. The officer went to his home because Carter was a suspect in a robbery at First Midwest Bank on Jefferson Street earlier that day. Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner said Carter attacked the officer while holding a “box cutter”-type knife and the officer was “forced to act” to “stop the threat.”
Boatman said she doesn’t believe Carter was armed and he was not the type of person to rob a bank. Marcello Carter, Bruce Carter’s brother, has claimed he wasn’t armed at the time of the incident and doubts he was at the bank for a robbery.
Boatman said the police have shared no information with Carter’s friends and family about the supposed bank robbery or the fatal shooting.
“Just tell us something,” she said.
Boatman described her friend of 20 years, nicknamed “June,” as a “good-hearted person” who cared for her. She said Bruce Carter was smart, an avid video game player and a good caretaker of his mother, Grace Vann, a stroke survivor who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
“Even people that do crimes shouldn’t get gunned down. They need due process,” Boatman said in tears.
Vann said a man entered her home without identifying himself. She said her son came downstairs, the man asked him to come outside, and Carter asked, “Why?” before he was shot.
“He killed my son,” Vann said.
Vann would not say whether her son was armed with a knife.
Roechner failed to return multiple calls Tuesday. Ken Kroll, chairman of the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, which is investigating the shooting, declined to comment. He said the investigation is ongoing.
The FBI is investigating the bank robbery. It lists Bruce Carter as “captured” Sunday without identifying him by name.
FBI Special Agent John Althen did not respond to questions Tuesday about whether the bank robbery suspect has been arrested, why the suspect’s name hasn’t been released, if there is a criminal complaint filed in the case and if the suspect is being held in a detention facility.
Althen has refused to say how much was stolen in the robbery and if a weapon was used.
Marcello Carter has said his brother worked at Elite Staffing on Cass Street. Boatman said Bruce Carter was a hard worker and he was saving up money for a new car because his previous one broke down, forcing him to walk to Elite Staffing every day.
Boatman said the two liked to play video games together. She said her favorite video game is “Call of Duty,” while his were “Grand Theft Auto” and “Gears of War.” She started to cry when she said she couldn’t play video games because she knew she wouldn’t play with him anymore.
“My friend’s not going to pop up. I can’t hear him on the mic no more,” she said.
She said because of Vann’s disability, Bruce Carter would take care of her on a daily basis by cooking and cleaning the house. She said he made sure she had her medicine. Boatman said that when she was sick herself, her friend would help her and visit her at the hospital.
“He was a constant help,” she said.
Boatman said she believes that Bruce Carter wouldn’t have attacked a police officer because he would’ve tried to defuse the situation “with his words.” She said if he did have a knife on him, it likely would’ve been from his job because he opens boxes. Elite Staffing coordinator Maria Soriano said Bruce Carter worked for Menasha Packaging Co. in Romeoville.
Roechner has said he cannot comment on whether the shooting was justified. He said the major crimes task force would determine that. Kroll said in an email that the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office or the court determines whether a shooting is justified.
“Police agencies conduct investigations and make recommendations,” Kroll said.