Police are pursuing the robbery theory because of what Detective Soto told them before he lost consciousness, that he and Kathryn Romberg were attacked by three men in a dark-colored sedan, possibly a Ford Taurus. The department says the incident fits the pattern of recent similar crimes in Soto's West Side neighborhood.
On Franklin Boulevard Thursday morning and afternoon, within two blocks of where the double homicide occurred, police presence was heavier than usual. In the 3100-block, tactical officers executed a search warrant. They said it was related to alleged drug trafficking, but neighbor Quentin James suspected it was part of the murder investigation.
"They trying to rush to judgment. You know, these guys don't have nothing to do with that. These young boys right here, just brothers on the street doing what they do, man. They don't have nothing to do with that," said James.
The killings happened early Wednesday in the 3000-block of Franklin. Detective Robert Soto and 45-year-old Kathryn Romberg were shot to death while they sat in Soto's SUV. Police say they were the victims of a robbery crew involved in a rash of recent hold-ups in the area.
"We heard about it's supposed to have been several other robberies in the area. So we hadn't heard about that," said Pat Brown, neighborhood resident.
Soto lived in the Southwest Side neighborhood with his wife and disabled brother. During his 23 years on the police force he was awarded 55 honorable mentions.
Soto and Romberg were both shot in the backs of their heads. Soto was also wounded in the abdomen. The off-duty detective reportedly was wearing his badge around his neck and investigators found his service weapon in the SUV, unfired, and a .38 caliber revolver in the glove compartment.
As police continue searching for armed robbers, they have discounted confirmed reports from witnesses who heard a loud argument near Soto's parked vehicle over an hour before the gunfire.
"I think that it was a domestic thing between a man and a woman. And that's what I think. It wasn't just no robbery. There are no robberies around here," said James.
For now, the Chicago Police Department does not consider Detective Soto's death as having happened in the line of duty.
The Fraternal Order of Police has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this double homicide.