As the Bureau of Criminal Investigation continues looking into Wednesday’s deadly officer-involved shooting at the Royal Mall Apartments in Niles, the pregnant girlfriend of the man who died is sharing her story.
“He was a sweetheart,” Tara Elkins said about Matthew Burroughs, who died after police officers shot him.
“I’m gonna miss his smile. He has a really nice — he used to just cheese at me. He didn’t really smile for everybody but he smiled for me,” she said. “I’m gonna remember his hugs. He always opened his arms to hug.”
Police said Burroughs was at Niles Municipal Court on Wednesday when staff learned he had an active warrant for assault and menacing charges. The warrants stemmed from an argument between the couple on December 17 when police were called to his Niles apartment.
Elkins called 911, saying Burroughs waved a gun in her face.
“Just a small altercation and he explained to me why he did what he did,” she said.
Elkins explained they were arguing and she called someone to pick her up.
“As a man protecting his house, he explained to me why he had the gun in his hand the day that I called was because I did call someone else to come and get me to help me because I was in a certain situation,” she said. “He said he would have never harmed me, he would have never hurt me and he would have never shot me or my son, and we got that cleared up.”
She said he texted her later and apologized.
Elkins said while Burroughs had a history, he was not a “hardcore criminal.” And, she said, he was beginning to turn his life around.
“Hard worker. He kept a job, he had his own car, he started going to church with me.”
Police said when the probation officer tried to arrest Burroughs in court on Wednesday, he took off, hitting the officer with the door of the car as he drove away.
“One of the road units did come across that suspect on the road, led them on a very short chase into the apartment complex and at some point after that, the shooting happened,” said Niles Police Capt. John Marshall.
A friend told Elkins what happened.
“He said, ‘Matthew’s dead. He was shot six times and he dead. He’s dead, not coming back.'”
She said she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“We were building something. We have a child on the way, I’m five months pregnant with his baby. So I’m torn apart right now.”
Two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.
“He had a huge heart and he wasn’t a violent man. They didn’t have to kill him like that,” Elkins said.
She plans on getting together with his family.
“I want justice to be served for Matthew,” Elkins said. “We will get to the bottom of what happened to Matthew — period.”
She hopes people remember him for his heart and his music, which he wrote and performed.
“He just wanted to have a family and a home,” she said. “His plan was not to die.”
Elkins is expecting a baby girl — Ta’mya Denise Burroughs. She’s due in May.