KANKAKEE — At least two men were shooting at one another during a gun battle in the 400 block of South Lincoln Avenue on Sept. 16, according to court documents filed last week by the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office.
No one was injured in the shooting, but an Illinois Central School Bus was in the process of dropping off Kankakee school district students.
Two lawsuits have been filed against the owner of a house at 456 South Lincoln Avenue, Irene Guzman, using state statute and the City of Kankakee’s nuisance ordinance. State’s Attorney Jim Rowe is asking the court to declare the house a chronic nuisance.
That would allow county and city officials to remove all occupants and board up the house for one year. The house would remain boarded up until all code violation matters have been rectified.
“[The two lawsuits are] to make sure we have every option available to us. This is a priority,” Rowe said.
It is the second time since 2017 that Rowe has sued Guzman for a nuisance house. The 2017 case was dismissed because there was a period of time where the nuisance had been removed.
This latest round of lawsuits is going after the property as a gang nuisance, Rowe said.
“I think the state’s attorney is relentless,” Kankakee School Superintendent Genevra Walters told the Daily Journal.
“Every person has legal rights and it will take time,” she said. “But, I feel confident that anything that can be done within the limits of the law, will be done.”
At approximately 3:27 p.m. on Sept. 16, an Illinois Central school bus was preparing to stop and drop off Kankakee school district students.
In a statement now made available through court documents related to the lawsuit, the driver of the bus said she was headed south when a car heading north was unable to pass the bus. The driver, who court documents identify as Thomas S. Rebmann, a member of the Harrison Street Gents gang, was agitated. He got out of the car and the bus driver saw a gun in his hand.
“I immediately yelled, ‘No! No! No!’ as I looked ahead and saw seven males come from the side of a house,” the bus driver wrote in her report for the bus company. The address was later identified as 456 S. Lincoln.
“The driver of the car yelled, ‘Move the [expletive] bus. Move it.’ Then shots were fired. I was moving slowly trying to get out of the way, while the Kings [as known as] from the house were still firing the guns.”
The bus driver told a Kankakee police investigator the man shooting from the house was in the background of a published photo taken by the Daily Journal’s John Dykstra.
The aide that was riding on the bus wrote in her statement for the company, “I told all the kids to get down and asked them if they were OK, then I started to check on the children. They stayed down until the police came.”
During a court appearance Nov. 7, attorneys for Guzman learned of the second lawsuit.
In October, Rowe’s office filed the first lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order against Guzman from maintaining a house of nuisance.
The next court date is Dec. 17. Judge William Dickenson will listen to arguments on a motion to dismiss the case.