‘It's Hard to Breathe. My Daughter Was My Whole World.' No Arrests as Families Grieve for Two Who Died in Mass Shooting at Halloween Party


At 22, Holly Mathews had her life figured out.

She was in her senior year of college, studying to be an arborist while working two jobs. Two weeks ago, she became engaged and was choosing bridesmaids.

“Her time was precious,” said her mom Sharyl Mathews, days after her daughter was gunned down during a Halloween party where 10 other people were shot early Sunday. “It’s hard to breathe. My daughter was my whole world.”

Mathews had gone out with a friend to a house party in Frankfort. They left around midnight and, at the suggestion of the friend, stopped by another party in Joliet Township.

“They felt a bad vibe and were there for only 10 minutes,” Sharyl Mathews said.

Before they could leave, two gunmen opened fire from an elevated porch into the crowd of around 200 people in the backyard of a home in the 1000 block of East Jackson Street.

Mathews was shot in the ribs and was pronounced dead in the yard. A man, also 22, was killed. Nine other people were hospitalized, and one remains in critical condition.

Sharyl Mathews said she fell to the ground when the sheriff’s office knocked on her door with the news. “We love her very much,” she said by phone Tuesday. “I don’t know how to go on without her.”

The other person who died was Jonathan Ceballos, remembered by family as “a great brother, friend and son.”

“I remember how much you used to love riding horses, going to Mexico, how we used to play soccer together all the time and how you always made people laugh,” his younger brother Carlos Ceballos wrote in an online fundraiser.

“I honestly can’t believe you were taken from us at such a young age,” he said. “You didn’t deserve this.”

Police had been called at least three times about noise at the party but had not tried to disperse the crowd. Police said the shooting appeared to be gang-related but offered no details.

No arrests have been made, though Mathews said police told her they are sifting through evidence. “I really hope they get these guys,” she said. “This isn’t right, this isn’t right at all.”

‘Always smiling’

Mathews recalled how sweet her daughter was to be around. “She was always smiling. She made friends with everyone. She was goofy and funny,” she said.

Her daughter was creative, and could paint, draw and construct mosaics. Mathews was very close to her 17-year-old sister and “best friend,” her mother said.

After a fire at the family home last year, Holly Mathews moved in with her partner. He proposed to her two weeks ago while they vacationed in Utah. Her boyfriend had helped her get a job at his workplace, a tree trimming tool manufacturer, and sparked her interest in being an arborist, her mother said.

She switched her major from nursing but continued working a second job as a nursing assistant at a rehab center.

“She was a workaholic,” her mother recalled. “She was on track to be successful. They were talking about buying their own house. And now it’s gone.”

Mathews’ funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Fred C. Dames Funeral Home in Joliet.

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