Crime

$10K reward offered in search for masked Rogers Park murderer

A $10,000 reward was offered Thursday for information leading to the capture of the person who police say shot and killed two men in a pair of apparently random attacks that happened within 36 hours along a half-mile stretch of Rogers Park — and that have left the neighborhood on edge.

The Jewish United Fund (JUF) and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago announced the reward along with Cook County Crime Stoppers a day after police released surveillance video of the masked suspect and the manhunt entered its third day.

More than 200 West Rogers Park residents packed into the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center on Thursday for an update from police on the Rogers Park murders. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

More than 200 West Rogers Park residents packed into the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center on Thursday for an update from police on the Rogers Park murders. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Police also clarified Thursday that they are unsure of the suspect’s race — saying now they believe he has a “dark complexion.”

“These murders are reverberating throughout the Jewish and the broader communities, and we are committed to doing whatever we can to apprehend whoever is responsible,” JUF executive vice president Jay Tcath said at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center.

Eliyahu Moscowitz, the 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man who was shot in the head at point-blank range on a lakefront path near Lunt Avenue late Monday, lived in the city’s main Jewish enclave near the JCC, where more than 200 residents packed in for an update from police on the case Thursday night.

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

His slaying occurred a day and a half after 73-year-old Douglass Watts was killed with the same gun while walking his dogs Sunday morning near his home in the 1400 block of West Sherwin, police say.

“It’s unnerving for this to happen so close to our community,” resident David Avram said after the meeting. “Everyone is praying a little harder.”

Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said police have received more than 100 tips since police announced on Tuesday that the murders were connected by the same gun and likely the same shooter.

But Riccio clarified the description of the shooter as a thin male with a “dark complexion.” Police initially described him as black in a community alert.

“We haven’t conclusively determined the race,” he said.

Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

He reiterated that detectives don’t suspect the killings were hate crimes.

“We don’t believe that there’s any way that the shooter could have known that the first victim was gay or the second individual was Jewish,” Riccio said. “We believe that he was just targeting lone individuals, lone males who were walking down the street. Easy targets. … Killing for the sake of killing.”

The video released Wednesday is from Watts’ murder, and Riccio said some of the 40 detectives assigned to the case are still poring over hundreds of hours of surveillance recordings for evidence from Moscowitz’s shooting.

They’re also reviewing past murders to see if there are any connections, though Riccio said they’ve determined the gun was not used “in any previous shootings.”

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (312) 744-8261, or dial 911. Tips can be left anonymously at cpdtip.com.

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