A US Army special forces sergeant has been charged over a shooting at an Illinois bowling alley that left three people dead and three wounded.
Winnebago County state’s attorney J Hanley said Duke Webb, 37, has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder after the shooting at Don Carter Lanes, in Rockford, on Saturday evening.
Webb was taken into custody shortly after the shooting at around 7pm, Rockford police chief Dan O’Shea said at a news conference on Sunday morning.
“I am very confident the officers that were on the scene in the building were able to stop further violence,” Mr O’Shea said.
He said the three who died were all men, aged 73, 65 and 69, but did not provide names.
Additionally, he said, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the face and airlifted to hospital in Madison in a stable condition, and a 16-year-old girl who was shot in the shoulder was treated at a hospital and released.
A 62-year-old man underwent surgery overnight after suffering multiple gunshot wounds and is in a critical condition.
“We believe this was a completely random act, and there is no prior meeting or any kind of relationship between the suspect and any of the victims in this case,” Mr O’Shea said. He did not provide information on what led up to the shooting.
The US Army said Webb is a Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), located at Camp Bull Simons, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He joined the Army in 2008 and was on leave on Saturday.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn about this tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded,” Col John Sannes, commander of 7th Special Forces Group, said in a statement.
The bowling alley was closed at the time of the shooting, in accordance with restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Mr O’Shea said, but a bar upstairs was open.
The chief said the upstairs venue has double doors that open to the outside, ensuring the bar is in compliance with Illinois’ Covid-19 mitigation guidance.
Up to 25 people were at Don Carter Lanes when the shooting happened, but most escaped or hid, Mr O’Shea said.
The teenagers who were wounded were picking up food at the takeaway section of the bowling alley, he said.
He said the suspect tried to conceal his weapons before his arrest, and that he was apprehended without officers firing a shot.
Webb is an active military man and investigators are in touch with the US Army, Mr O’Shea said.
The Rockford Register Star reported that 2020 has been the deadliest year on record for homicides in the city of about 170,000 residents located about 80 miles north west of Chicago. Thirty-five people have been killed in the city this year, breaking the previous record of 31 in 1996.
“As we come to the end of this most difficult year and we look ahead at this New Year upon us, we know that this type of violence needs to stop,” Mayor Tom McNamara said.
“And today, with the eyes of the country upon us, we need to show as Rockfordians how we respond to an incident such as this, as one Rockford, supporting one another.”