LOVES PARK (WIFR) -- Hundreds unite to help a Rockford family grieve the loss of a local attorney killed during a high-speed crash.
More than 200 packing into Jax Pub in Loves Park to remember Karen Williams. Williams was killed in August outside the CherryVale Mall when police say her car was hit by a group of men fleeing the scene of an alleged robbery. The family is now struggling to pay for funeral and medical expenses, calling her death tragic and unexpected.
Friends tell us they are now working with lawmakers to prevent future tragedies.
Karen Williams' funeral will be held Saturday at noon at Fitzgerald Funeral Home on Mulford Road.
UPDATE: The men accused of killing an innocent women in a high speed crash in Cherry Valley made their first court appearance Friday.
D'Angelo Brooks,19, Ronaldo Ford, 19, and Bryant Locke, 20, pleaded not guilty to armed robbery.
Police accused them of robbing a U.S. Cellular Store in Belvidere on August 20 before crashing into a car outside of CherryVale Mall. Seriously injuring Karen Williams. She died Wednesday at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, a week after the crash.
The trio have not been charged yet in her death. The crash is still under investigation by the Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force.
Williams was critically injured during a high-speed chase on August 20th while her friends say she was making a quick stop at the mall.
Officers say that chase involved three men who were robbing a u-s cellular store in Belvidere. Investigators say the suspects crashed into Karen's car as she was leaving the Cherry-Vale mall parking lot on Perryville Road, just outside of Menards last Wednesday night. She's been in critical condition at Saint Anthony Medical Center until Wednesday night.
Friends tell us she played in a soccer game before running an errand at the mall.
Karen Williams was not only active in the community but also on the soccer field. 23 News caught up with her teammates earlier Wednesday night before hearing the news of her death.
It's hard for Sarah Lynch to play on this soccer field when her teammate. Karen Williams isn't running next to her.
"We all have heavy hearts that Karen's not with us, first game without her and we wish she was here. We all have sayings on our shirts that we're playing for Karen and we're giving it our all," said Sarah Lynch.
But for Williams' team it's not about winning, Lynch says the vibrant 42-year-old loved playing soccer. That's why dozens of teammates, friends, and opponents joined on the field to pray for Williams and her family.
"After the game we told her that was the best game she'd ever played," said one of Williams' teammates.
Friends say she was leaving their weekly game to meet a friend at Cherry Vale Mall when a car crashed into hers last Wednesday. Investigators says the three suspects were fleeing from police after an alleged armed robbery.
"Karen was such a people person. Everybody loved her. She loved her sports. Basketball, soccer. In talking to a lot of our soccer community, everyone's in disarray. It's very hard, it's very difficult," said Kristine Frank, Williams friend.
"You could feel Karen's presence."
Gaelle Tokoto says despite this difficult time, she's finding comfort in her teammates and the local soccer community.
"It's beautiful because out here it's competitive at times you would even think that other teams don't like other teams but of course everybody is human and just to know that we have the love and support of all the other teams just really meant a lot," said Tokoto, Williams teammate.
The men have not been charged in Winnebago County yet the State's Attorneys office is still investigating and will now look into her death.
Karen Williams remains in critical condition. Tonight, soccer players from her team and others are meeting at 6:45 on Field 103 at Sportscore 1 for a prayer vigil. It’s the last place she played before officers say robbery suspects running from police crashed into her car near the mall last Wednesday.
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A local police officer remains on leave while the integrity task force looks into a near deadly high-speed chase, that left an innocent woman clinging for life.
Three men are in jail as investigators determine whether the suspects are linked to robberies at U.S. Cellulars across the Stateline. Officers say the three men were running from police in Belvidere before crashing into 42-year-old Karen Williams.
Tonight, we’re focusing on the victim caught in the middle of all of this as hundreds are expected to wrap around OSF Saint Anthony Hospital in prayer.
Karen’s close friends say she is a natural born cheerleader, just an overall cheerful, happy, and energetic person who is always trying to cheer you up when you’re down. For friends, that’s what makes her struggle so tragic, seeing a person who lives life with the most positive mindset dealing with such a horrible set of circumstances right now.
The vigil isn't’t really being organized by any one person or group and no one really knows how long they’ll be at the hospital.
Karen’s friends are asking for everyone’s prayers tonight.
One of Karen’s closest friends who was with her family at the hospital earlier today tells us Karen is not doing well and in that friend’s words, “it will take a God-given miracle to save Karen.”
As Karen Williams’ family and friends pray for her tonight, the three men who police say caused the crash are in custody facing robbery charges, but more charges may be coming soon.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- We're learning new details about the innocent woman police say was nearly killed during last night's police chase and shooting.
Karen Williams, 42, is a 1990 grad of Jefferson High School and she founded and is president of that schools alumni association. According to her Linked In page Williams is an arbitrator for the 17th judicial court. She is also an administrator for the "Growing Up in Rockford" Facebook page that has more than 13,000.
Investigators say these three men; D'Angelo Brooks,19, Ronaldo Ford, 19, and Bryant Locke, 20, could be linked to three U.S. Cellular robberies this summer. Including one Wednesday night in Belvidere where police say the trio was fleeing from when they crashed into Williams on South Perryville Road near the mall. Investigators say one of the men exchanged shots with an officer causing the Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force to step in. The officer is on paid leave.
We're starting to get a clearer picture of what happened after the crash. 23 News Anchor Whitney Martin spoke with a Menards worker who says he chased, tackled and held one of the suspects down until police arrived. He says one of three men tried to take his car. The employee says he wants to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation saying "I was just trying to do the right thing."
42-year-old Karen Williams was injured when police say the three suspects involved in a cell phone store robbery in Belvidere led Boone County Deputies on a high speed pursuit into Cherry Valley.
The suspect vehicle then smashed into Williams’ silver car. After the crash, police say at least on of the suspects started firing at officers.
The three suspects, 20-year-old Bryant Locke of Rockford, 19-year-old D'Angelo Brooks of Rockford, and 19-year-old Ronaldo Fort of Rockford are all in custody. Investigators say they’re looking into whether the suspects are connected to other area phone store robberies
UPDATE: A woman is fighting for her life after police say a car with three robbery suspects smashed into hers in Cherry Valley during a police chase that ended in a shootout.
Police say Wednesday night the three suspects were allegedly involved in a cell phone store robbery in Belvidere, before leading Boone County deputies on a high-speed pursuit into Cherry Valley.
The white Pontiac is the suspect vehicle that smashed into a silver car in the 2000 block of South Perryville Road. The woman driver of the a silver car is in critical condition.
The after the crash police say the suspects got out of the car. One of them had a gun and police say that's when shots were fired.
The Winnebago-Boone Integrity Task Force is taking over the investigation. Investigators are looking into the shooting, the police chase and crash, as well as, the robbery in Belvidere.
All three suspects are in custody. No word on their charges at this time, however, investigators say they're looking into whether the suspects are connected to other area cell phone store robberies.
CHERRY VALLEY (WIFR) -- Three men are in custody after a police chase ends in a car crash and shots being fired near the CherryVale Mall.
The Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force has been called to investigate.
Police say the suspects were being chased out of Boone County after allegedly robbing a cell phone store. The high speed chase ended in the 2000 block of South Perryville Road when the suspects crashed into a car, sending a woman to the hospital. Police say she is in critical condition.
We're told the men then tried to run away from the scene while shooting at officers causing police to fire back. No one was hit.
Police are still on the scene investigating.
The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department says the men fired shots before trying to run from the scene.
We'll have a live report tonight at 10.