A U.S. Army special forces sergeant based in Florida has been charged in an apparently random shooting at an Illinois bowling alley that left three people dead and three wounded, authorities said Sunday.
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 in the shooting at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford on Saturday evening.
While no bowling is currently allowed due to state-imposed coronavirus restrictions, a bar linked to the business was legally open.
Webb was taken into custody shortly after the shooting at around 7 p.m., 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,” 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 a hospital in Madison in 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 critical condition, the chief said.
The suspect has no known ties to the victims, O’Shea said.
“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,” O’Shea said. He did not provide information on what led to the shooting.
The U.S. Army said Webb is a Special Forces 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 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 W. Sannes, commander of 7th Special Forces Group, said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. John Brennan, commander of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), said in a statement on Sunday night that Webb’s alleged actions were “abhorrent” and not representative of the Special Forces.
He said Webb’s actions were “shocking” and “completely out of character” with his 12 years of honorable service.
The bowling alley was closed at the time of the shooting in accordance with coronavirus restrictions, but a bar upstairs was open.
Up to 25 people were at Don Carter Lanes when the shooting happened, but most of them escaped or hid, O’Shea said.
He declined to say whether the shootings happened in the bar or elsewhere in the building, saying those details would come out in court.
The teens who were wounded were picking up carryout food at 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.
“Most of the incident was captured on surveillance video from inside the business,” O’Shea said, adding that investigators are studying captured images.
O’Shea said investigators are in touch with the Army. He didn’t explain why the Florida man was in Illinois.
The Army said it will provide full assistance in the police investigation.
The Rockford Register Star reported that 2020 has been the deadliest year on record for homicides in the city of about 170,000 residents about 80 miles northwest 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.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.