An Illinois man died shielding his son from a hail of bullets that also killed his two daughters in what police are calling an act of "pure evil."
Dionus Neely, 39, his 10-year-old daughter, Elle Neely, and his 3-year-old daughter, India Neely, were fatally shot inside their Hazel Crest home at about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, police said.
All three were shot multiple times, authorities said.
“What happened yesterday was nothing short of evil at its best; nothing short of that. Anyone who could kill a 3 year old and a 10 year old, no matter what the circumstances were, that’s nothing but pure evil,” Police Chief Mitchell Davis III said at a news conference Sunday.
The shooting occurred as Neely and his five children were sleeping on two twin beds and a couch in their living room, his wife, Erin Neely, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
After the gunfire stopped, the terrified woman said she checked on her family.
“After I didn’t hear any more shots I crawled on the floor and closed the front door because it was open,” she said. “And then I crawled over to the couch where my two daughters were sleeping and pulled them down to the floor. And they were limp. I checked on my husband and he was unresponsive.”
Their 11-year-old son, who was in the same bed as Neely, was not injured.
“I think he tried to cover him with his body,” Erin Neely told the newspaper.
Their 8-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter were also unharmed in the shooting.
“Only by the grace of God we weren’t hit,” she said.
“This was not a random act of violence, this was a targeted event,” Davis said, declining to provide further details but stressing that the shooting was an isolated incident.
“There’s not a madman out killing kids,” he said. “There’s a madman that killed some kids. So there’s not somebody running rampant. If there was an issue with safety in the community, and our residents had an issue with that, then we would have let them know.”
Neely had a criminal record, including convictions on drug charges for incidents in 1998 and 2008, records show. He received a four-year prison sentence for the 2008 conviction.
“He’d cleaned up his life,” his wife said.
His death leaves 10 children without a father, according to reports.
Lakeisha Brandon, who said she had three kids with Neely, took to Facebook to mourn her children’s father.
“My heart is heavy ... anybody that know me and my kids father know we tight we have been friends since we were kids,” she wrote in a Facebook post. ”I'm go miss my friend and his beautiful kids. His Kids were my kids too. I will never forget how much love his daughter El shows me every time she sees me.
“This little girl spirit is so bubbly. How can you be so heartless to kill some innocent children. I'm anger, I'm hurt, I'm confused I can't stop the tears from rolling down my face. Please pray for me and my kids, please pray my kids father family. This is so hard. I keep thinking I'm dreaming.”
Anyone with information that might be related to the case is urged to call Hazel Crest Police at 708-335-9640 and choose option one.
“Somebody knows about what transpired," Davis said. "Look inside yourself, look into your heart, come forward and tell us what you know."