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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Tom Schuba

No link ‘at this time’ between fatal shootings in Rogers Park and apparent serial killings in California, police say

Police officials said there’s no clear connection between a gunman who killed two people in Rogers Park in 2018 and an alleged serial killer in California. Video surveillance of the suspect in California stoked speculation and comparisons to video footage of the shooter in Chicago. (Chicago Police Department YouTube channel)

Officials say there’s no clear link “at this time” between a pair of unsolved fatal shootings in Rogers Park and a series of shootings in California that have left six people dead and another wounded.

The apparently random attacks in Rogers Park placed the neighborhood on high alert in the fall of 2018 but never resulted in any arrests. 

Chicago police released surveillance video connected to one of the slayings that showed the suspect wearing black clothing and a mask, his hands in his pockets and his feet pointed outward. His unusual gait earned him the nickname, the “Duck Walk Killer.”

A possible connection to the shootings on the West Coast came after police in Stockton, Calif. released surveillance video of a suspect on Oct. 4. The brief video shows a shadowy figure in black clothing, walking with what Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden described as an “uneven stride.”

A local YouTube account soon compared the two videos, and TV news stations and other media outlets have since reported on a coordinated effort between law enforcement agencies to find a connection.

Tom Ahern, a Chicago police spokesman, confirmed that detectives from Chicago and California have “discussed their separate investigations and compared details,” but they haven’t found any clear connections.

“At this time, we do not believe there is a link in these investigations,” he said.

Joe Silva, Stockton’s police spokesman, said his agency has “been receiving hundreds of tips a day,” including videos related to the shootings in Chicago. But like Ahern, Silva said “it appears that these cases at this time are not related.”

“The big concern in this case are the victims’ families,” he said. “Because obviously, they’ve gone through a lot of trauma. And I think it’s important that when we do receive tips or information, that they are followed up [on] to see if it’s a credible lead or not. And that’s what we did in this case.”

Silva added that investigators from Stockton and Chicago remain in contact.

The shootings in Chicago began on Sept. 30, 2018 when Douglass Watts, 73, was shot at point-blank range as he walked his dog near his home in the 1400 block of West Sherwin Avenue. 

About a day and a half later, Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, was gunned down on a lakefront path near Lunt Avenue as he played Pokemon Go on his cellphone.

A single gun was connected to the slayings — along with a pair of subsequent drive-by shootings.

On Oct. 15, 2018, just weeks after the killings, the gun was used to shoot two men in the 4300 block of West Fifth Avenue in Lawndale. Then on March 28, 2019, someone used it to fire at security guards in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard on the Near West Side. No one was hurt.

Ballistics tests showed the same gun was used in all four shootings, although it was unclear how many people had used it, police said.

The apparently random shootings in California started in Oakland on April 10, 2021 when 39-year-old Miguel Vazquez was shot to death. The other shootings happened in Stockton.

As with the Chicago attacks, the shootings in California have been connected by ballistic evidence.

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