Man charged in North Center car crash that left woman dead in 2021

CHICAGO — A Chicago man faces murder and other charges for his role in a fatal car crash and shooting in North Center early on October 3, 2021.

Ollonzo Wilson, 38, fired a gun while driving along Irving Park Road, then sped away at high speed, causing a traffic crash near Irving and Western Avenue that left a 37-year-old woman dead and a 27-year-old man injured, Chicago police said.

More details about exactly what officials believe happened will be revealed during Wilson’s bond hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after the crash, Chicago police said a CPD canine unit was stopped at a traffic light when he heard gunshots and saw muzzle flashes coming from a Toyota Camry on Irving Park Road.

Ollonzo Wilson and Janelle Gardiner | Chicago Police Department; Thompson Funeral

The officer turned on their emergency lights and began following the Camry, which ran a red light and struck a Nissan Rogue, according to CPD’s statement. The occupants of the car that struck Gardiner’s vehicle climbed into an SUV that stopped to pick them up.

Janell Gardiner of Evanston was ejected from the Nissan and later died.

Police initially said that occupants of the Camry engaged in a shootout with people in another car, but the department later revised its statement, saying that investigators weren’t sure if shots were fired from both vehicles or only one.

Wilson is charged with first-degree murder during the commission of anotehr forcible felony, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and failure to report an accident involving death.

The day after the crash, Gardiner’s sister, Lilani, told WGN that Janelle was on her way home after they enjoyed the evening at an Arlo Parks concert at Lincoln Hall.

An online obituary said that Janelle was born in Evanston to Belizean parents and fell in love with their Central American homeland. She once traveled to the country for two weeks and ended up staying for nine months.

“Janelle was and still is a blessing to others. She lived and gave to all those she loved selflessly … Janelle always insisted on trying to be in the front row center. She was always the loudest in the audience, singing every single word and even connecting with some of the artists. This is just one example of what made her happy. Music was her fountain of energy.”

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