Video shows masked man suspected in 2 Rogers Park murders, police say
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Chicago police on Wednesday released surveillance video showing the masked man who they think shot two people at point-blank range within 36 hours of each other, as officers flooded the North Side neighborhood with extra patrols and residents remained on edge in the wake of the mysterious murders.
The video puts in motion the image released Tuesday of a thin male with his face covered, calmly walking west in the 1400 block of Sherwin Avenue before shooting 73-year-old Douglass Watts as he walked his dog about 10 a.m. Sunday.
Another clip shows the suspected shooter — who police say disguised himself — jogging down an alley with his hands in the pockets of his coat, just minutes after Watts was shot in the head steps away from Watts’ apartment building.
Police released the video at a community meeting Wednesday night to update residents on the investigation into Watts’ killing as well as that of 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz, who was gunned down on the lakefront path near Lunt Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Monday with a bullet that authorities say came from the same gun.
Police say the same shooter is behind both slayings, though a motive remains unknown.
Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio noted the distinctive gait of the person in the video, with his feet pointing outward “pretty significantly.”
The fact that the suspect arrived and left the scene on foot makes detectives think he’s from Rogers Park — and still there.
“He’s somebody’s neighbor,” Riccio said. “He shops in the same store as someone. He works with someone. Somebody knows this person, and we need them to come forward.”
Tetman Callis, one of the more than 200 residents who crammed into the sweltering Loyola Park field house gymnasium to hear from police Wednesday night, said the murder spree is jarring.
“It changed the way I feel about Chicago. … There’s a sense of uncertainty in the neighborhood,” Callis said.
Some residents questioned the police description of the suspect as a thin black male based on the heavily-garbed person seen in the video.
“I’m 6-feet tall. I’m thin. Am I a suspect?” said Terry Hartington, who is African-American.
According to police, that description is based on high-resolution analysis of the surveillance video, as well as information from a possible witness — though police wouldn’t say to which slaying.
Residents also expressed concern at the possibility the shootings were hate crimes. Watts was gay, and Moscowitz was an Orthodox Jew.
Riccio said detectives haven’t ruled that out as a possible motive, but it’s “not probable at this point.”
About 40 detectives are working the case, a “very rare” allocation of manpower as the neighborhood grapples with the disturbing pair of crimes.
Earlier in the day, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said the area was crawling with police saturation patrols — similar to the attention South and West Side neighborhoods get after a violent summer weekend — but it’s not enough to ease the panic among local residents caused by the seemingly indiscriminate killings.
“People are frightened. They’re afraid to go out. This is such a random act. There’s no rhyme or reason for it, other than this person is obviously a disturbed individual. Robbery is not a motive. It’s not anything having to do with a gang dispute. The two victims have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. That just heightens the fear,” Moore said.
Geri Murray said she has lived in Rogers Park for 12 years. She said the shootings made her think about other neighborhoods that are more consistently affected by gun violence.
“We are very much mourning the loss of innocent life. It does make you pause to think about — there are neighborhoods where they’re dealing with this all the time and parts of our country and our world where people are being traumatized constantly by this,” said Murray.
Alie Katz said the shootings, especially their randomness, made her feel “sick to my stomach” and fearful for her 11- and 12-year-old children.
“The boy that was shot, I would see him in the park. I know other people who would play Pokémon with him,” she said. “So, it’s scary to me.”
Moore said Chicago Police were literally going door-to-door asking Rogers Park residents holed up in their homes if they know or had seen anything that might lead to the killer.
Moore lives a block and a half from where Watts was shot while walking his dogs.
The alderman said he was outside his home around the time of the shooting, but did not hear the shots. He learned about the murder about an hour later after receiving a text from the Rogers Park district commander.
Long known as a melting pot, Moore said Rogers Park is a “very resilient community” that will survive the uncharacteristic outbreak of violence.
But, the alderman said, “Everyone’s mind will be put at ease if we are able to apprehend the individual who did these last two crimes.”
Sources said the saturation patrols in Rogers Park may not be sustainable once a verdict is reached in the trial of Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has said 12-hour shifts would be instituted in preparation of the verdict, which could come this week, and a police source said Wednesday those longer shifts are going into effect on Thursday.
Riccio insisted Wednesday night that police don’t plan to pull out any of the Rogers Park patrols as they try to track down the killer.