A Crest Hill man was found shot to death outside the Plainfield Road Denny’s on Tuesday night in Joliet.
Gregory G. Brown, 36, suffered a single gunshot wound, according to the Will County Coroner’s Office.
Joliet police responded to a report of an unresponsive individual just after 10 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of the Denny’s at 2531 Plainfield Road, according to a news release from the Joliet Police Department.
Joliet fire personnel tried to revive Brown, but he already was dead, according to the release.
The coroner’s office pronounced Brown dead about 11:30 p.m.
The police consider the incident a homicide and have asked for the public’s assistance in gathering information.
Anyone with details about the killing is asked to call Joliet police Det. Jose Martinez at 815-724-3020, ext. 3383, or Will County Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734. Crime Stoppers tips also can be left online at crimestoppersofwillcounty.org.
Crime Stoppers callers can remain anonymous and still collect reward money.
“This is an ongoing investigation and is still in its early stages,” according to the news release.
“The Joliet police [are] actively looking into what occurred and for those responsible,” according to the release.
Joliet police Sgt. Christopher Botzum and Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner both failed to respond to questions Wednesday.
No police tape or law enforcement activity was seen at the Plainfield Road breakfast spot Wednesday morning, but the restaurant was open for business.
An individual who identified herself as a restaurant manager said she could not “divulge any information” about the incident.
A business owner in the plaza who asked not to be identified said that more streetlights need to be installed and police patrols should be increased near the strip mall.
“This is not a dirty part of town. …Why are we having dirty stuff happen here?” the business owner said.
The business owner said it is hard to find the entrance to the Denny’s because there are not enough streetlights.
He also said there once was an abandoned car in the parking lot that had hypodermic needles inside, and it took months before the vehicle was removed.
Timmer Peters, an employee of Vaperz Vape Shop, which is near Denny’s, said the store was closed at the time of the shooting.
“It’s scary to think about,” Peters said of the body found near her job.
Joey Bartoli, an employee for AutoZone, which is near the plaza, said no one at the store saw or heard anything because the business was closed at the time Brown’s body was found. He said he saw a police detective searching a field near AutoZone about noon Wednesday.
“It’s Joliet, so you don’t know what to expect. But it is concerning,” Bartoli said.
The strip mall is in the city’s busy retail and restaurant area around the Louis Joliet Mall.
When asked if he was concerned about the fatal shooting in one of the city’s destination areas, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk only said he had little information about it as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t know anything about it other than that a shooting occurred,” O’Dekirk said, adding that he could not comment further without knowing more information.”
Councilman Larry Hug, whose City Council district includes the mall area, said he was waiting to hear details about what caused the shooting.
“I’m concerned about a shooting anyplace in the city, and I’m certainly concerned about shootings in high-travel areas,” Hug said.
He said the discovery of a homicide victim outside Denny’s who had been shot to death was not the first time gun violence has marred the mall area.
In 2016, a gunfight broke out in the parking lot outside the Louis Joliet Mall. The shooting happened during a drug sale set up at the location by federal agents during an investigation of a suspected drug dealer.
Only the suspected drug dealer was wounded, although several cars in the parking lot were hit by bullets.
In 2017, one woman was shot in the leg and another woman was stabbed in the face in a late-night fight outside Anthony’s Restaurant and Pub, which is located in the mall district.
The shooting and stabbing led to city imposing limits on Anthony’s liquor license. Those limits have since been lifted.