ROSELAND — A 60-year-old woman who was fatally shot by police while threatening them with a butcher knife Thursday had just lost her mother and nephew and wasn't coping well, neighbors and family friends said.
Angelique Styles' mom died a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, Styles' nephew died of a tumor, friends said.
"She was a little distraught with her mother gone," said Chris McKelpin, 55, who has been neighbors with Styles for 25 years. "I was trying to comfort her this week. [Her mother] was her rock."
On Thursday night, Styles' brother, with whom she lived, called police about 6:40 p.m., saying his sister was armed with a butcher knife and possibly under the influence of drugs. Neighbors said she was just drinking beer.
When officers arrived, Styles was "tearing the house apart" and acting violently, according to police union spokesman Pat Camden. She was carrying a butcher knife, which she refused to drop.
Camden said Styles raised the knife and moved toward the officers. That's when one opened fire, fatally wounding Styles. She was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center at 8:03 p.m. Thursday.
Although some neighbors questioned the use of deadly force — with one saying, "they could've shot her in the leg, not killed an old lady who's been drinking all night" — Camden said the officers had to protect themselves and others.
"This isn't television. This is reality," Camden said. "Police are not going to shoot the knife out of her hand."
Camden said police officers are trained to shoot for "center of mass" and are authorized to use deadly force to prevent serious injury to others.
After the shooting, police swarmed Styles' home in the 10900 block of South Eberhart Avenue.
"I was just watching TV — a movie," McKelpin said. "The next thing I saw was blue lights. There were 20 cars out here."
McKelpin said he knows Styles' daughter and grandkids and was shocked that a domestic disturbance call came from her home. The family is tight-knit and throws barbecues in the summer, he said. Neighbors said the family had lived in the home for generations.
Styles' brother declined to comment.
According to neighbors, Styles liked to drink beer. No one interviewed ever knew her to do drugs.
"She was drinking [on Thursday night], but she was not on any kind of drugs," one neighbor said. "I don't know where that s--- came from."
On Friday morning, residents of the usually "quiet street" said they were surprised the shooting "happened right up under us." A woman who's lived on the block since 1985 said she couldn't recall a single violent incident.
Several people said they wished the police had handled the situation differently.
"I can understand [the police perspective]. They put their lives in jeopardy every day," McKelpin said. "But it could've been diffused a lot better. He could've pepper-sprayed her — anything but shoot her."
Camden said it would take fractions of a second for the woman to stab the officers and that neighbors should be concerned with a different question.
"Neighbors should be asking why she didn't drop the knife," Camden said.
A neighbor who's known Styles for four years thinks she was exasperated with her brother — the two had a stormy relationship, he said — and stressed about losing two relatives so closely together.