Vernon Hills man found guilty in fatal 2021 Gurnee shooting

A 27-year-old Vernon Hills man has been convicted of second-degree murder and other charges involving the 2021 shooting death of a Zion man in a Gurnee Mills parking lot.

Following a five-day trial in Lake County circuit court, Joey Gonzalez also was convicted this past Friday of two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of unlawful use of weapon by a felon, according to a news release from the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.

Gurnee police on Nov. 27, 2021, were called to a report of shots fired at the Gurnee Mills parking lot. Officers found Zion resident Jonathan Denicolas, 26, being aided by a good Samaritan. He later died of his injuries.

According to the news release, authorities discovered through phone records, eyewitnesses and surveillance video that Denicolas had arranged to meet with Gonzalez the day of the shooting. Gonzalez was taken into custody in August 2022 by U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Gonzalez took the stand in his own defense and claimed self-defense, though there was no evidence of Denicolas shooting at Gonzalez and no weapons were recovered from the area, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

His next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.

Gonzalez was the second person charged in the shooting. In July 2022, Jesse Zumaya, then 33, of Hainesville was charged with aggravated battery and unlawful discharge of a firearm in connection with the case, according to the state’s attorney’s office. His case is pending.

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