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Delnor's 2017 hostage crisis shooting remains under review

Kane County State's Attorney talks victims' rights, deportation fears

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon

ST. CHARLES – A year ago, a Kane County jail detainee took two nurses hostage – raped, tortured and beat one of them – before the detainee was killed by a SWAT team on May 13, 2017.

Lawyers in the Kane County State's Attorney's Office still are reviewing the final investigative report issued by Illinois State Police this spring, on the officer-related shooting during that hostage crisis at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, State's Attorney Joe McMahon said at his monthly media briefing June 5.

"We hope to have it done in the next couple of weeks," McMahon said of the written assessment his office will issue.

At the briefing, when asked about rumored reports of activity in Kane County by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McMahon said he only knows of the alleged incidents because of media reports, but added he is concerned that crime will not get reported by victims or their family members out of fear of deportation.

In other news, McMahon expressed gratitude to two social service organizations and two police departments for stepping up to help his office provide services to crime victims after the loss of a grant defunded his department's Victims' Rights Unit.

The unit, which gave victims of violent crime and their families access to advocates working on their behalf in the court system, ended after federal grant money was denied in December for fiscal year 2018.

At the time, McMahon noted that for more than 20 years, the department had received funding for the program from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, which distributes federal money from the U.S. Department of Justice authorized by the Victims of Crime Act. The victims' services are legally mandated by the state.

The grant application had sought $104,368, for which Kane County would provide a match of $59,982. The combined total of $164,350 would have continued to fund three full-time positions, which have all been eliminated.

"We lost staff; we’re taking on additional responsibility with existing staff and looking for other grant opportunities," McMahon said. "I can only put so much work on the employees of this office – both the lawyers and the nonlawyer, professional staff – before there’s a breakdown."

McMahon thanked Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter in Aurora, for assigning an employee to assist victims from the geographic area it serves, which includes the southern half of Kane County. He said while it is not a full-time position, the assistance is significant.

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists also is providing advocate services to victims who have been severely injured or are relatives of people who have been killed in a motor vehicle crash involving alcohol or drugs.

And both the Carpentersville and Elgin police departments are assisting victims of incidents that occurred in their communities, providing a social worker and an intervention and victim service specialist, respectively.

"All of these agencies have stepped forward," McMahon said. "I’m grateful for the relationships we have with those agencies. They’ve been a significant help to lawyers and staff in this office to make sure that victims that come into the court system, through no fault of their own, receive the high level of support that they’ve come to expect from this county and office."

But he stressed that it is not sustainable long-term for his office to rely on outside agencies.

McMahon said his department would reapply for the grant this year, as well as request funding from the Kane County Board as backup in case the grant application fails.

The grant application process changed last year, and McMahon said his office, based on feedback from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, will refine its next request to better meet the new criteria. He said he takes responsibility for the rejected grant, and is optimistic looking ahead.

"I think we put forth a strong application last year," McMahon said. "The executive director [of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority's] lack of communication about how the grant applications were going to be reviewed and scored was unfortunate. It impacted us here in Kane. We [had] a Victim's Service Unit that has been recognized by various groups across this state as providing exemplary service. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority completely disregarded that and I think that was a mistake on their part."

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