Owner store

Rockford business owner plans to move after shooting outside her store

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — Obstacles are no stranger to Janene Stephenson, as she opened J’s Event Design Studio in downtown Rockford just three days into the pandemic. But Stephenson says what happened near his business on Monday afternoon was his breaking point.

“From what I heard they were running away,” Stephenson said. “At the bus station, they had to get down because they heard like nine gunshots.”

Rockford police say a man was shot just outside the Winnebago County Justice Center, which is directly across from Stephenson’s studio.

“You know immediately when you hear gunshots and it’s so close to your business that you’re frustrated,” Stephenson said. “Coming here, I also wanted to make a change in the west side area, so here it really upset me, because I tried so hard.”

Stephenson says none of her clients or friends were hurt in the crossfire, but she thinks the mere fact that they were put in danger is too much.

“I’m not going to put my clients at risk by coming here,” Stephenson said. “I will not do my business here.”

That’s why Stephenson thinks it might be time to move his business elsewhere and focus its location on State St., to become a community outreach center for Rockford’s youth.

“My son and I would like to focus more on young people right now because we are losing so many young people to gun violence,” Stephenson said. “We need the children to lay down their arms.”

Stephenson says that as a business owner and someone who wants to make a change, it’s the smartest decision she could make for Rockford and for herself.

“To all young people, to all entrepreneurs, don’t give up, because I won’t give up,” Stephenson said. “That didn’t make me give up.”

Police are still investigating details of the shooting, but the shot man, police say, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

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