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Loyola Park cameras come up empty in search for Rogers Park killer

Loyola Park surveillance cameras captured no images of a spree killer believed to be responsible for two random murders over a 36-hour period that have terrorized Rogers Park, one of them near the park, officials said Tuesday.

Local Ald. Joe Moore (49th) described the empty search as a setback in the massive manhunt for the person believed to be responsible for shooting two victims with no apparent connection at point-blank range, one gay, the other an Orthodox Jew.

At about 10:20 p.m. on Oct. 1, 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz was shot in the head at point-blank range while walking on the lakefront trail near Loyola Park.

Thirty-six hours earlier, 73-year-old Douglas Watts was walking his dogs just after 10 a.m. near his home in the 1400 block of West Sherwin when someone walked up and shot him in the head.

Expedited ballistics tests performed by the ATF on shell casings found at the shooting scenes confirmed that both victims were shot in the head at close range with bullets that came from the same gun. It’s likely the same shooter, police said.

Chicago Police have already released surveillance images from private cameras near the scene of the Watts murder.

Police released a surveillance photo of a masked man suspected in the murders of Eliyahu Moscowitz (top left) and Douglass Watts (bottom left). | Provided photos

Police released a surveillance photo of a masked man suspected in the murders of Eliyahu Moscowitz (top left) and Douglass Watts (bottom left). | Provided photos

One video shows a man dressed in all-dark clothing with a hooded mask walking towards his victim. The other video shows the suspected killer walking with his feet turned outward down an alley one block south of where Watts was murdered.

Moore had hoped that surveillance cameras in Loyola Park would produce an even better image of the same shooter to assist police in the massive manhunt. But there was no more video evidence.

“There was one camera close to the scene of the shooting. There are others in the park that arguably could spot someone coming or going, [but] they haven’t shown anything,” Moore said Tuesday.

“Cameras in the park are first-generation cameras. They rotate around unlike the modern cameras where, when there are shots, the camera immediately goes to the sound of the gunfire. It could be that the cameras were pointing in another direction when the shooting took place.”

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the cameras in Loyola Park were apparently pointed in the wrong direction at the time of the shooting and the killer’s approach and exit.

“Cameras are not a panacea . . . Sometimes, they’re pointed where you need them. Sometimes, they’re not. That’s why it’s important to develop a system where you can manually control. That way, if there is something, the operator takes over and can manipulate the camera to support the police deployment,” Guglielmi said.

“We want to get to a place where, if a violent incident happens, we have a place staffed 24/7 and those analysts and officers are working to look at all the video and build a profile for detectives to start investigating earlier.”

Even though the Loyola Park cameras turned up empty, Guglielmi emphatically denied that the search for the Rogers Park spree killer has reached a dead end.

To the contrary, 40 detectives still working the case are following up on “some pretty promising leads” from the 200 tips that have poured in, he said.

“I can’t go into specifics of what that is. We’re not there yet. But we are getting some pretty good tips in and we’re following up on those. Detectives feel optimistic about that,” he said.

Guglielmi acknowledged that the decision to release the video images last week and flood the area with police officers may well have driven the Rogers Park killer underground.

But he refused to second-guess the strategy.

“We’re not gonna take chances with peoples’ lives that if we know something, we’re gonna hold it until we can catch him because that usually means that someone is gonna get hurt,” he said.

“So, the second we knew, we rang the bell on identifying who it was. It’s not because of where it happened. It’s because of how it happened, how random it was and the community in which he attacked. The homosexual and the Jewish community were very upset about that, as were we.”

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