Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ohio man may be linked to Rock River Valley shootings

(PHOTO) DRIVE-BY SHOOTING

ROCKFORD — A man killed by police in Wisconsin last week may be linked to several drive-by shootings in Winnebago County.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department is working with other police agencies in Wisconsin and Illinois in relation to a string of drive-by shootings starting April 20 along the Interstate 90 corridor.

Police believe a 28-year-old Ohio man, who was killed Friday after opening fire on police officers in Tomah, may be linked to about a dozen reported shootings, including several in Winnebago County.
“We are taking a close look at it,” said Winnebago County Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro. “There were several different incidents that had similarities to what happened up in Wisconsin. We have met with everybody and are exchanging information.”

No injuries were reported locally. A 50-year-old Dane County, Wis., woman was struck by gunfire, and a Wisconsin police officer was shot during Friday’s shootout.

Three homeowners along the west side of Interstate 90 in Winnebago County — one on Belvidere Road, the others on Meander Drive — reported their homes being struck by gunfire.

The Rockford Police Department believes the April 20 shooting at a Rockford Goodwill store, 4618 E. State St., could be linked to the other shootings. The Loves Park Police Department also reported three similar incidents of buildings being hit by gunfire during that time span.

“It was a frightening experience, certainly for those living along the Tollway,” Iasparro said. “Some of the bullets actually went through the siding of houses and into the home.”

Iasparro said bullets taken from those homes were sent to a crime lab to see whether they match bullets from shootings in Wisconsin.

Reach staff writer Matt Williams at mwilliams@rrstar.com or 815-987-1389.