Husband of slain Galesburg woman shares their last moments toget - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Husband of slain Galesburg woman shares their last moments together

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Jenni McGruder, pictured with her two children Jenni McGruder, pictured with her two children

Police have identified a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Galesburg mother, who'd been enjoying a rare night out with her husband and friends.

Galesburg Police are searching for 28-year old Jonathan Kelly, the suspect they believe is connected to the incident. 
A nationwide warrant has been issued for him in connection with the death of 26-year-old Jenni McGruder.

Jenni's husband, Michael McGruder, opened up to 25 News, recalling the details of the fateful event.

Four years ago, Michael was getting fitted for a tux to marry Jenni, whom he affectionately referred to as his best friend, but after the fatal shooting at Seminary Street Pub in Galesburg over the weekend,  he faced the struggle of  getting fitted for another tux, this time for her funeral.

Despite his pain, Michael says he can finally talk about his wife, high school sweetheart, and the mother of their two young children, without tears. Though that wasn't the case in the beginning. 

"She's loving. She's caring. I mean  every positive word you can think of, she fit that definition." Michael rattled off a list of heartfelt adjectives to describe Jenni. 

The couple went to the Seminary Street Pub to celebrate Jenni's 26th birthday, but when a heated argument inside the pub escalated with someone threatening to shoot, the couple hightailed it to their friend's car.

That's when Michael says his wife was struck by a stray bullet. He immediately ducked and cried out for Jenni after realizing he wasn't shot. 

Jenni was next to him on the ground. "I thought she may have ducked and she was laying down... freaked out, scared.  So I said 'Ok let's get up. C'mon let's go' and she wasn't moving." he explained. 

Michael says he then noticed blood pouring from her body. He tried desperately to talk to her so she would hold onto his voice, but it was too late. 

"In a perfect world, I would have tackled her to the ground and maybe I would have gotten hit." Michael said, replaying the scene over and over. He says it's painful discussing it, but he feels he has to do it. 

"It's my last memory with her. So I have to relive it. It's a form of me coping and grieving and I also get to tell strangers how awesome she was."

Probably the hardest thing he admits, was telling their children. He described the experience as chilling, sharing that it seemed like his daughter already knew.

"When we told her that mommy went to the sky, she said 'it's just like the dream I had'." Michael recounted his 3-year-old daughter's response when he had to break the news to her. His family assisted him in telling his daughter, but he had to face the painful reality of trying to explain it to his 1-year-old son as well.

He also explained that he's grateful that he's not going through the ordeal alone, adding that Jenni's family has been by his side every step of the way since that terrifying day. Their help and the outpouring of support from the community has reminded him of his wife's strength, giving him the strength in turn, to keep pushing. 

Several people have reached out to the McGruder family to offer condolences. A local tattoo shop has pledged to offer $50 tattoos until they raise $5,000 to donate to the family. Another store gave McGruder and his son their tuxedos for Jenni's funeral,  at no cost,  demonstrate their support. 

"It's a beautiful thing. It's showing there's people out there like Jenni" he exclaimed. 

Behind the bar, is a small memorial for Jenni and throughout the city there are other examples of similar support. A local gas station has the words "RIP JENNI" on their sign. McGruder says that type of solidarity warms his heart, but he'll won't settle for anything less than the suspect being caught and put behind bars.

That man, Jonathan Kelly, is someone McGruder was familiar with. He said he and his wife didn't know him personally, but he knew 'of' him, just being from a small town. In fact, the morning of the shooting, as Jenni lay next to him on the ground, Kelly ran past him during the chaos, and flashed his gun, he explained, almost as way to threaten him not to take action. 

Galesburg police are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Kelly to contact Galesburg Police Department at (309) 343-9151 or Galesburg Crime Stopper at (309) 344-0044/ 1(888) 266-0044 or text a tip with keyword “GALESBURG” to 274637.

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