6 shot, 3 killed in apparent random shooting at Don Carter Lanes bowling alley in Rockford; FL serviceman charged

The suspect is a Florida Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant, Army confirms

ByCate Cauguiran and Alexis McAdams, Jesse Kirsch WLS logo
Monday, December 28, 2020
6 shot, 3 killed in apparent random shooting at Don Carter Lanes bowling alley in Rockford; FL serviceman charged
Three people were killed and three others injured in an apparently random shooting at a Rockford bowling alley Saturday night.

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WLS) -- A U.S. serviceman from Florida has been charged in a shooting at a Rockford bowling alley that left three people dead and three wounded Saturday night in what authorities believe was a random attack.

Duke Webb, 37, of Florida, was identified by police during a press conference Sunday morning and confirmed by the Army to be an active military man.

Police said they believe Webb was the only one responsible for Saturday's shooting at Don Carter Lanes.

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 Sunday morning.

The bowling alley itself was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, there is an upstairs bar that was open with 20- 25 people when Webb opened fire, according to officials. 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.

"People were able to get out of the building and some were able to hide while the shooting was going on," O'Shea said. "The suspect was discharging his weapon both inside and outside of the building."

Witnesses who were inside at the time of the shooting tell ABC7 Webb fired off several rounds as people jumped off the bar's balcony to try and get to safety.

Don Carter Lanes is now grieving the loss of the three who were regulars, releasing this statement Sunday:

"A heinous act of violence by an evil coward took innocent life tonight. The entire bowling community mourns the senseless loss of life and prays for the families. God, please be with their friends and families. Thank you to law enforcement for your heroic actions that prevented further loss of life."

"I am very confident the officers that were on the scene in the building were able to stop further violence," O'Shea said.

Mike, who works at Don Carter Lanes, said he talked to the gunman shortly before the bullets started flying.

"He did not seem right, so I was like, 'I got to get away from this guy,'" he said.

Officials said the three who died were all men, aged 73, 65 and 69, but did not provide names.

"We have three families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones," Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said.

Additionally, authorities said, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the face but stable and airlifted to a hospital in Madison, 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.

Friends of the man fighting for his life are praying he will pull through.

"He is in critical condition," said the victim's friend, Isiah Box. "(He) had surgery last night and that is all we know right now."

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 up to the shooting.

WATCH: Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea gives latest on shooting

Rockford police provide update on bowling alley shooting that left 3 dead, 3 others injured.

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.

Now, the community is left reeling as they learn the names of those lost.

"My stomach is just turning," Mike said. "I feel for my friend and my bowling companion."

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The establishment will hold a candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the north lot. They ask those who plan to attend to park in the east or west lots.

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, whose district includes Rockford, tweeted he was "Praying for the victims and their families tonight after the heinous attack in our community."

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 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 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."

Earlier Sunday, Rockford faith leaders joined together in prayer outside the bowling alley.

"Our hearts were broken like so many in the community that just couldn't believe this would happen in a place where we live," said Violet Johnicker, pastor of Brook Road United Methodist Church.

New Zion Baptist Church Pastor K. Edward Copeland agreed.

"This is not normal. We're not going to normalize it, not just going to let it be another statistic," he 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's also a Green Beret.

He joined the Army in 2008 and was on leave when the shooting occurred.

"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," said Col. John W. Sannes, commander of 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

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Webb has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, according to Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley. He is expected to be in court Monday.

ABC News and Associated Press contributed to this report.