Illinois man charged with hate crime for allegedly shooting next-door neighbor | Illinois

An Illinois man is facing accusations of a hate crime after he allegedly shot his next-door neighbor while hurling racist slurs at her sons, who are Black.

Prosecutors charged John Shadbar, 70, with nine charges, including attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery, unlawful use of a weapon and a hate crime. Shadbar is being held in jail without bond after authorities said he had harassed his neighbor and her sons for years.

Investigators allege that Shadbar shot his neighbor, Melissa Robertson, 45, in the back yard of her home in Lockport Township, Illinois, a suburb outside Chicago. Robertson was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and was still recovering from her injuries.

Robertson’s family said she had reported to the Will county sheriff’s office multiple times that Shadbar had been harassing her family, shooting blanks and fireworks from his back yard and using racist slurs. Robertson, who is white, has two sons who are Black.

On 7 May, Robertson was outside with a friend and two children, including Robertson’s eight-year-old son, when Shadbar started revving his motorcycle engine, according to court documents seen by ABC News. Robertson blew an air horn in his direction, prompting him to yell “There’s gonna be dead [N-word] today” and throw a bottle over the fence.

The friend took the two children inside while Robertson walked toward Shadbar, thinking he was shooting blanks from a gun. Shadbar ultimately shot Robertson twice, in her chest and stomach, police said.

After the shooting, Shadbar barricaded himself inside his home, coming out after speaking with a crisis negotiator with the sheriff’s office.

“While speaking to the crisis negotiator, Shadbar made several incriminating statements,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post about the incident.

With a search warrant, officers found five guns in Shadbar’s home, including some that were hidden in the walls. Shadbar’s gun-ownership rights had been revoked after he was arrested for a felony in 1979.

On Facebook, the sheriff’s office said that over the last year, it had “responded to a few calls to the victim’s home that were minor, non-related issues and were resolved on scene”. One call had reported that Shadbar was acting agitated and yelling at Robertson and her children. A second call was about Shadbar shooting fireworks and possibly a gun over Robertson’s fence.

“The victim states that she had ongoing issues with Shadbar. Deputies spoke with Shadbar, conducted an initial investigation, and due to lack of evidence no arrest was made at the time,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

Mikeal Johnson, Robertson’s stepson, said that his mother had surmised such an attack would eventually occur.

“She’s been telling me something like this was bound to happen because the cops won’t do anything – they can’t do anything,” Johnson told CBS News.

Jeanne Beyer, Robertson’s aunt, told the news outlet that “nothing was ever done”, noting that Shadbar didn’t have a firearm owners identification (FOID) card.

“I don’t care if he was shooting blanks – if he’s in his front yard waving a gun and doesn’t have a FOID card,” Beyer said. “I mean, I have a FOID card. I can’t go stand in my front yard and wave my gun around without some consequences.”

Talking to NBC News, Johnson recalled Shadbar calling “me the N-word straight to my face” and coming out of his house with a gun.

“It’s disheartening that it takes something like this to finally be heard,” Johnson said. “I don’t want anyone else of color, people of color, feeling like this, like they don’t deserve to be where they are because they’re Black and in the wrong neighborhood, so to be speak. I wish we could all be treated equally.”

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