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Traffic dispute led to shooting in Macomb

West Pierce Street was blocked between Johnson and Albert streets while police investigated the shooting scene.
Rich Egger
West Pierce Street was blocked between Johnson and Albert streets while police investigated the shooting scene.

The events leading up to Tuesday morning’s shooting in Macomb started with a traffic dispute outside Haymakers convenience store, according to information revealed in court Wednesday afternoon.

Herman Hill, 38, and Ryan Westerfeld, 21, did not know each other before the encounter. It’s not clear what sparked the dispute, but Hill told investigators that he noticed the driver of a silver vehicle gesturing at him.

After leaving the business, Hill called his girlfriend to say he was being followed by a reckless driver, and he told her to meet him in the driveway with a bag from the house.

Hill parked in his driveway at 320 W. Pierce St. and got out of his car. Westerfeld has followed Hill to his home, and remained in his vehicle.

Hill walked into the street toward Westerfeld’s vehicle on the passenger side while holding a gun behind his back, and the two exchanged more words.

Hill said Westerfeld then started to reach toward his car’s console, which Hill considered threatening. That’s when Hill fired a gun into the vehicle.

Westerfeld suffered five gunshot wounds to right arm and chest. He drove himself to the Macomb police station. He was then taken to McDonough District Hospital before being life flighted to HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

Macomb police said he is in stable condition.

Hill is charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He appeared in court via Zoom from the McDonough County jail.

State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala said Hill intended to use the gun as the confrontation between the two men continued. He said Hill posed a threat to Westerfeld and other members of the community and should remain in jail.

Assistant Public Defender John Sheehan said Hill called police after the shooting and cooperated with investigators. He said Hill feared for his safety when Westerfeld reached into his console. Sheehan said Hill should be released and ordered to wear a GPS tracker.

Circuit Judge Nigel Graham denied pretrial release, saying he was concerned that Hill chose to approach the vehicle and then fired shots, demonstrating a potential threat to the community. He also noted that Hill called his girlfriend prior to the shooting and instructed her to get his gun and/or ammunition.

Graham scheduled a preliminary hearing for December 4.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.