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Michael Bakana still missing from his own murder trial, but jury sees video of his police interview

Michael Bakana, right, is charged with murder in connection with the 2021 shooting of Mariah Petracca.
Clay Jackson / The Pantagraph (Pool)
Michael Bakana, right, is charged with murder in connection with the 2021 shooting of Mariah Petracca.

Fear of the violent nature of some Americans caused Michael Bakana to fire 10 rounds from his handgun during a dispute outside a downtown bar, according to Bakana's statement given to police two hours after the incident that left one woman dead on the sidewalk.

The one-hour interview was played Thursday for a jury considering murder and attempted murder charges against Bakana. The defendant failed to appear for the trial on Monday and remains at large.

Police public safety camera footage captured the Jan. 29, 2021, argument between Bakana, Mariah Petracca and Petracca's friend. The video shows an argument and then Bakana walking to his car across the street from Daddios. Petracca died at the scene and her friend was critically wounded.

Sitting in a Bloomington Police interview room, Bakana told detectives about three previous assaults he suffered from women since he joined his family in the U.S. from Africa in 2006.

“America people, you are violent people, men and women,” said Bakana.

Bakana denied he was angry with the women he met for the first time as they waited in line outside the bar. He said he tried to avoid an argument by telling them his father had died one month earlier.

One of the women repeatedly insulted his father, using a profanity, he said.

Bakana said his history of being beaten, starting as a child, caused him to buy a gun during the pandemic.

“I decided I was going to protect myself and not let myself get beaten,” Bakana told police. He said he had his gun with him as he and a friend visited two other bars that night.

When asked about his thoughts after the shooting, Bakana said, ”Jesus Christ. My God. I shoot somebody. I shoot a human being. I am a Christian. I can’t believe it.”

The final moments of the video showed Bakana alone in the interview room. He whispers to himself, “I shot that b--. Black hair. I shot that b--. F—you.”

The defense showed jurors a brief clip of the same interview, this one capturing Bakana alone before he spoke with investigators.

“No, no, no,” Bakana screamed before burying his head in his hands on his lap.

The defense is expected to present its case later Thursday, with closing arguments anticipated Friday.

Edith Brady-Lunny was a correspondent at WGLT, joining the station in 2019. She left the station in 2024.