Police: Sixth woman encountered gunman

February 3, 2008 9:23:05 PM PST
A police source has confirmed that a sixth woman encountered the gunman and survived the deadly store shootings.The woman encountered the gunman as the robbery was taking place. She got a look at the suspect but was not seriously injured. She spent much of the day Sunday speaking with authorities trying to help them come up with a composite sketch.

The massive manhunt that followed had not lead to an arrest Sunday evening. In the meantime, the families of the five women killed were speaking out.

"You took five lives, and you destroyed five families," said Sincereray Wimbley, cousin of shooting victim Connie Woolfolk.

The shootings happened late Saturday morning at a Lane Bryant store in a Tinley Park shopping center.

The pain of the shooting hits the Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School doubly hard. One of the school's social workers, Carrie Chiuso, is among the victims, as is the mother of a 16-year-old Homewood-Flossmoor student. The two women were shopping at Lane Bryant Saturday. They may not have known each other or their connection with the school, but all of the families were united in their grief Sunday.

Thirty-seven-year-old Connie Woolfolk was starting a new chapter in her life. After working for the village of Park Forest for years, she had just started a mortgage business with her mother. Woolfolk was the mother of two boys, including one son who suffers from an illness.

"Right now, it's not really about us. I think I'll be able to handle it. It's more about her nieces and nephews and her kids. They're going to be the people that we're to have to continue to watch and help get through this," said Aaron Woolfolk, the victim's brother.

"I give my condolences to all of the other families that are going through this as well. The person that has done this, I wish you would, honestly, just turn yourself in," said Sincereray Wimbley.

Carrie Chiuso, 33, of Frankfurt married a little more than a year ago. She and her husband were looking forward to starting a family. Chiuso was a social worker at her alma mater, Homewood-Flossmoor.

"The kids had a lot of confidence in her. They could trust her, and it helped our son, David, find what he really wanted to do," said Bob Bramlette, the shooting victim's friend.

Sarah Szafranski, 22, the youngest victim, was from Oak Forest. Her family said their emotions were raw, and they were still in shock Sunday. They released a statement saying:

"Sarah was loved by all who knew her, and we are counting on that love to sustain us while we mourn."

Jennifer Bishop, 34, was also a customer at the store Saturday. She was from South Bend, Indiana.

Rhoda McFarland of Joliet was the store's manager. She was 42 years old and had gotten engaged recently.

"Sadly, this is a commentary on our society that no community is immune to what can happen. It is a sad commentary that it has happened. This tragedy should not have happened in any town," said Tinley Park Mayor Edward Zabrocki.

Mayor Zabrocki is asking that flags fly at half-staff in his community for five days, one day for each of the victims.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Tinley Park police at 708-444-5368 and Cook County Crimestoppers at 1-800-535-STOP.

The company that owns Lane Bryant is also in mourning for those who died Saturday. They closed their Chicago-area stores for the day and issued a statement saying: "We grieve for the innocent victims, and our primary concern is for the families and loved ones of those fatally injured." (To view a complete statement posted on the retailer's Web site, click here).