Senator who championed Illinois criminal justice overhaul is carjacked at gunpoint; offenders fired shots at her husband

Kimberly Lightford

Update December 23 — Authorities now say Lightford’s husband, a concealed carry holder, fired at least some of the shots during the incident.

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, who championed the state’s criminal justice reform omnibus legislation in January, was carjacked at gunpoint in suburban Broadview on Tuesday evening, authorities said. One of the hijackers fired multiple gunshots at Lightford’s husband, but he was not injured.

Three masked men exited a Dodge Durango and hijacked Lightford’s Mercedes Benz SUV at gunpoint on the 2000 block of South 20th Avenue around 9:45 p.m., according to a statement from the village’s chief of police.

Lightford confirmed the incident in a short statement, saying she was “thankful that my husband and I are alive and physically unharmed. I am trying to process the trauma of what happened.”

She thanked the Broadview Police Department for their “quick and thorough response.”

Her husband, Eric McKennie, was driving their Mercedes when the carjackers struck.

Police did not say if McKennie or Lightford fired any shots in the incident.

Lightford helped lead the charge to pass the state’s wide-ranging overhaul of criminal justice-related laws, which passed in January. Among other things, the law decriminalized absences of less than 48 hours by people who are ordered to stay on pre-trial electronic monitoring, and it will eliminate cash bail in January 2023.

Lightford is at least the second major sponsor of the legislation to fall victim to criminals this year.

Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago was publicly angered when another driver who allegedly pointed a handgun at him as they drove in Springfield got out of jail by posting $1,500.

Police arrested 54-year-old Michael Hoyle in connection with the incident. Prosecutors charged him with unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a firearm with a revoked Firearm Owner’s ID card, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The case is still ongoing, according to Sangamon County court records.

“By him being released on bail, he’s free to do this again,” Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago told the State-Journal Register in March. Sims called the incident a “perfect example of how cash bail doesn’t make people more safe.”

One month earlier, Sims tweeted, “money bond doesn’t guarantee public safety or someone’s appearance in court, it supports a system where freedom is based on the size of someone’s bank account. We’ve tried the failed tough on crime polices [sic] of the past.”

The legislation Sims sponsored in January will prohibit Illinois judges from setting any cash bail except when the defendant “poses a real and present threat” to safety beginning in 2023.

“The trauma does not just extend to me,” Sims told the newspaper in March. “My wife has not slept a full night since this happened. Those traumas are real.”

It wasn’t clear why Sims believed Hoyle should have been jailed and denied the ability to support his family and loved ones while merely accused of a non-violent crime.

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