Man convicted in Gurnee Mills parking lot fatal shooting

A Vernon Hills man has been found guilty in connection with the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in the parking lot of Gurnee Mills in 2021.

Joey Gonzalez, 27, was found guilty on all counts Friday following a five-day jury trial in the murder of Jonathan Denicolas, the Lake County State's Attorney's Office said in a statement. Gonzalez was convicted of second degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

"Shooters will be held responsible for the death and destruction they are causing," state's attorney Eric Rinehart said in the statement.

On Nov. 27, 2021, Gurnee officers responded to a report of shots fired in the Gurnee Mills parking lot where they found Denicolas, who was being helped by a good Samaritan. Denicolas was taken to a local hospital where he died from his wounds a few hours later.

Gonzalez and Zumaya

Using phone records, surveillance video, and eyewitness statements, investigators learned Denicolas had planned to meet with Gonzalez on the day of the shooting.

Gonzalez was taken into custody in Woodridge in Aug. 2022 by U.S. Marshals and has been held in the Lake County Jail on a $10 million bond since his arrest. After the guilty verdict, Judge Christopher Lombardo revoked his ability to post bond.

A second man, Jesse Zumaya, 33, of Hainesville, was arrested on July 26, 2022, in connection with the murder. His bond was set at $3,000,000.

Gonzalez took the stand in his own defense and claimed self-defense even though there was no evidence that Denicolas shot at him, and no weapons were recovered from the scene, the statement said.[

He now faces at least 30 years in prison, and his next court date is scheduled for Aug. 2.