Bolingbrook community members gather for vigil after three killed in home invasion

Tomika Reed, sister of Cartez Daniels, is embraced by Liz Campbell on Wednesday at a vigil at DuPage Township Center for the victims of Sunday’s shooting.

John Starks/Daily Herald

The sister of one of the three people shot to death in a Bolingbrook home invasion shared how her family has been forever changed by Sunday’s deadly attack.

“What I am most upset about is … this stole opportunities,” Tomika Reed said through tears at a vigil Wednesday. “Opportunities to see the babies grow up, to see my brother get married. 

“The whole experience took away from our family,” she said as others cried with her. 

Reed’s brother, Cartez Daniels, died in the home on Lee Lane. Samiya Shelton-Tillman, 17, and Sanai Daniels, 9, also were killed. Cartez Daniels’ fiancee and the children’s mother, Tania Stewart, was wounded and remains in stable condition at a hospital, authorities said.

Two boys, ages 3 and 14, who were in the home at the time of the shooting were not hurt. Authorities said the boys were staying with family members. A family friend said the boys were also Stewart’s children.

More than 100 people, including many students, gathered at the DuPage Township Center for the vigil. 

More than 100 people attend a vigil Wednesday night. Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta told the family that the community stands with them. “Everyone here today is a support for you,” she said. “You are not alone.”

John Starks/Daily Herald

“What kind of world are we in where there’s that kind of hate?” Reed said. My brother’s “fiancee is in the hospital, and she has to wake up to the realization that half of her children and the love of her life is gone.”

Byrion Montgomery, 17, was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shootings. Bolingbrook police said Montgomery and Shelton-Tillman had been dating. Montgomery, who remains in custody on $20 million bail, is also charged with attempted murder, home invasion, aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will next appear in Will County court March 30. 

A memorial outside the Lee Lane home in Bolingbrook. Byrion Montgomery, 17, has been charged with murder in the slayings. Authorities say he had been dating victim Samiya Shelton-Tillman.

John Starks/Daily Herald

Montgomery and Shelton-Tillman were students at Bolingbrook High School, officials said.

“She was like a sister to me,” 15-year-old Dezylin Hope said of Shelton-Tillman. “She was just sweet.” 

Hope and many other students left notes for the family of the victims after the vigil. Others released a handful of balloons to remember the victims. 

Valley View Community Unit School District 365 Supt. Rachel Kinder attended the vigil and said the district’s crisis-response team was available to students at Bolingbrook High School and Oak View Elementary School, where Sanai Daniels was a student. 

“We’ve been focused on supporting the students and staff,” she said, adding that the crisis-response team will remain available to both schools throughout the week.

Chemecca Mobley, a friend of Tania Stewart, sobbed quietly as Reed talked about Daniels and the lives cut short by Sunday’s shooting.

“It just hurts,” she said, as she described her friend as an outgoing person who loved her children.

She said the couple typically set aside Sundays as a family day with the children and other family members. 

“He was a caring son,” Carter Taylor said of his son, Cartez Daniels, in a phone interview. “He cared about family above everything,” and that included Shelton-Tillman, his stepdaughter whom he loved like his own.

Several community pastors prayed for an end to violence throughout the vigil and urged those in attendance to show love and support to one another. One pastor urged students in the group to use the opportunity to “do better” and to learn from the experiences of others older than themselves. 

“Take this as a learning lesson that this is not what you want for your life or your community,” said Zilzah Trotter, pastor of One Kingdom Worship Ministry in Bolingbrook. 

Pointing to the crowd, Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta told Reed that the community stands with her and her family. 

“Everyone here today is a support for you,” she said. “You are not alone.” 

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