Bullets After Brunch

Marc Kajs repeatedly asked the police for protection. They said theycouldn't do anything until his stalker physically harmed him. Eight bulletslater it was too late.

For New Year's, Ilhan bought himself a gun. Marc's threat-to-life reports were on file, but Ilhan hadn't been charged with anything, so HPD approved the sale. By this time, Ilhan was calling Donna constantly, sometimes four or five times a night. Sometimes he'd repeatedly dial Donna's number, let it ring and then hang up. She banned him from her Clear Lake barbecue restaurant, Gruber's. Ilhan kept calling.

"You're going to be the first to die," he said.

Donna has a gun too; she wasn't scared. "Get your ass over here," she said. "I'll pop one in your butt."

Johnny wishes he'd pressured Marc to go to the police sooner.
Deron Neblett
Johnny wishes he'd pressured Marc to go to the police sooner.

Ilhan told Marc's friend Johnny that all he wanted from Marc was his house keys back and he'd leave Marc alone. Johnny got Marc to hand over the keys, but Ilhan didn't go away. "This is serious," Johnny remembers telling Marc. "He's never going to leave you alone." Marc laughed. He made a joke. He said: "You're just jealous that you don't have a stalker too." He said Ilhan would never touch him. "If he did, I'd kick his ass," Marc joked.

On March 6, the day after his 32nd birthday, Ilhan came to Urbana and threw a bullet-riddled target at Marc. "This is going to be you," he said, and stormed off. Marc called the police, then his parents. He told Gloria that an officer had told him they couldn't do anything since Ilhan hadn't physically harmed him. After that, Marc was too scared to walk to Urbana's parking lot by himself. His co-workers escorted him to his car.

Ilhan called Marc's parents' house constantly. Marc blocked the number, so Ilhan called from pay phones. Ilhan tried to make Gloria worry that Marc was hanging out with dangerous people. He told her that he protected Marc and that Marc was safe with him. He told her he had served in the Turkish army. Other times he called Marc "a no-good slugger" and told Gloria that his military training would enable him to kill Marc. He loved Marc, so he could destroy him.

"I love Marc," Ilhan told Gloria. "I love him more than you do."

Four days before the final encounter, Ilhan was following Marc. Marc drove to the Montrose substation, but Ilhan came in too. The officer later told Marc's parents that he could tell that Ilhan was obsessed with Marc and that Marc just wanted the relationship to be over. The officer wanted the two to make up, to say that everything was okay. Ilhan was a manipulative man and Marc didn't like to argue, so they said everything was fine and they left. No report was written.

Two nights later Marc and Johnny got off work at Urbana and went to see the ten-thirty showing of the rerelease of Grease. Still clad in their black jeans and white shirts, the two went to the River Oaks Plaza on West Gray next to T.J. Maxx. Knowing Ilhan had followed him, Marc parked in the mini-lot behind the theater so Ilhan couldn't see his car from the street.

Marc and Johnny laughed and danced and sang the familiar songs all through the movie. They had a great time. When they walked out, Ilhan drove his car between Marc and Johnny. Ilhan got out of the car, twisted Marc's arm behind his back and threw Marc up against the wall. It was like one of the TBird fight scenes with Craterface, but no one was on a motorcycle and no one was singing. And this time the fighting was real: Ilhan started choking Marc.

Johnny ran inside and yelled for someone to call 911. He doesn't think anyone did, because it was after midnight and the 17-year-olds were trying to close up. Back outside, Johnny threw himself between Marc and Ilhan. Ilhan was yelling, and Marc was yelling back. Johnny told Marc to shut up and get in the car. Marc started the car, doubled back, opened the door for Johnny, and they sped off. They went down the street to Cecil's, a straight bar that's always filled with a dark, smoky haze -- a good place to hide.

Over a pitcher of Honey Brown beer, Marc said Ilhan hadn't done anything like that before. Johnny told him to go to the police, to get a restraining order. Marc said okay.

"Promise?" Johnny asked him.

"I promise," Marc said.

But Marc put it off. In the morning it didn't seem so bad. Then it got dark. That's when Ilhan followed Marc up Allen Parkway threatening Marc's life. That's when Marc went to the police and said he was scared. That's when they told him to come back Monday.

Afraid to leave the police station, Marc stayed inside until well after Ilhan had left. Marc got home at 5 a.m. Sunday, scared and shaken. He told his mom he was tired of running. He put a piece of cold pizza in the microwave, but he didn't eat it. He was too tired, too angry. He told his mother that he was outraged that at the station the police didn't have his reports on file; he wanted to know where they were. Sunday morning Gloria wanted Marc to stay home. She almost didn't wake him up to go to work. She wanted Marc to quit his job, buckle down and graduate college. She's a teacher; education is important to her. Marc told her staying home wouldn't keep him safe, despite his mother's shotgun, because Ilhan knew where he lived. If he stayed home, Ilhan could come to the house and hurt her and his little brother and sister, and Marc didn't want to put them in danger.

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