Oakbrook Center shooting leaves multiple students on lockdown

Misinformation heightens fear during incident

Ella Mahaney, Managing Editor

Payton Anderson ‘22 arrived at Oakbrook Center on Dec. 23 at 2:45 p.m. She walked into the AMC Oakbrook Center 12 movie theatre and sat down to watch “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” As the credits ran after the movie, she gathered her belongings and stood up ready to exit the theatre. 

However, she wasn’t allowed to leave. A shooting broke out right outside the theatre at 5:44 p.m., on the second floor in the Nordstrom wing, near Anne Taylor at Oakbrook Center, according to the Oak Brook Police Department. 

“At first it was very surreal,” Anderson said. “I asked myself, is this really happening to me?” 

When the mall went on lockdown, Anderson remembers looking at a video on NBC 5 Chicago news where there was an aerial view of the theatre she was in. Colin Farris ‘21 was in that same movie theatre. They both agreed that the biggest issue while in lockdown was the misinformation about the shooting. 

“There was so much confusion and misinformation going around through that movie theater, that I had no clue what information was right,” Farris said.

The pair, along with Charles Cundiff ‘22, updated each other with new information as it became available, Farris said.  

The truth was, two men had fired 12 shots wounding four and injuring one, as a person broke her ankle fleeing the scene. The victims’ ages range from 18 to 57. Steve Lane, 29, and Tyran Williams, 32, have since been charged with many felonies for their alleged role in this event, according to the Dupage County State’s Attorney Office. Williams has been charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon and Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm on five different accounts, a DuPage County press release said. Lane has been charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm on four accounts, Aggravated Battery-Discharge of a Firearm.

The active shooter drills that he had participated in at LT helped Farris know where to go and what to do during the shooting, he said. 

“In my opinion, I feel like I would have been much more scared of the whole situation if I hadn’t talked about ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) in school,” Farris said.

Emmaline Novak ‘22 was also at the mall when the shooting occured. After waiting almost three hours, she was evacuated from the mall.

“The mall was extremely quiet, except for the SWAT and police that were around the mall,” Novak said. “It felt very eerie as the Christmas music was still playing even though this event just occurred.”

Those who were evacuated from the mall were required to put their hands up and were escorted to the parking lot. The Oak Brook Police force and SWAT helped to evacuate those in the mall’s stores. To ensure shoppers safety, the mall has since increased its police presence.

In the aftermath of the shooting, all three students expressed how the LT community had supported them.

“[When we went back to school,] everyone was asking me if I was doing okay, which was really nice,” Anderson said. 

Since the event on Dec. 23, both Anderson and Novak have returned to Oakbrook Center and Farris plans to soon. However, this event left a lasting impression, Novak said.

“It really opens your eyes and makes you realize just how fast your life can be affected,” Novak said. “You always think that it won’t happen to you, until it does and you are in that situation.”