With the investigation stalled more than a month after two men were shot to death in a pair of spree killings in Rogers Park, authorities on Thursday announced a $150,000 reward for information leading them to the gunman who has left the North Side neighborhood on edge.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said they hope the largest reward offered in any crime in the city’s history “will encourage individuals with direct knowledge of and interactions with the suspect will come forward.
“We are using every resource at our disposal to find the individual responsible,” Johnson said at a Thursday press conference. “These were heinous actions and we will find this person. We will not stop until we have this suspect in custody.”
Douglass Watts was the victim of the first shooting, which happened on a Sunday morning, just after 10 a.m. Sept. 30 as the 73-year-old walked his dog steps just away from his home in the 1400 block of West Sherwin.
About 36 hours later, on Oct. 1, 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz was alone playing Pokemon Go on the Loyola lakefront path near Lunt Avenue when someone walked up about 10:30 p.m. and shot him in the head at point-blank range — the same manner in which Watts had been slain.
Ballistic tests showed that shell casings recovered from both scenes — barely half a mile apart from each other — came from the same gun, police announced a day after the second murder.
“This person is clearly trying to disguise themselves,” Johnson said then. “Clearly he or she knows what they are going out to do.”
Authorities released surveillance video of the suspect recorded after Watts’ murder, showing a man disguised in black clothing with a ski mask running away with a distinctive gait, with his toes pointed outward.
The fact that the suspect arrived and left the scene on foot has made detectives think he’s from Rogers Park — and still there.
“He’s somebody’s neighbor,” CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said at an Oct. 3 community meeting. “He shops in the same store as someone. He works with someone. Somebody knows this person, and we need them to come forward.”
Cameras near the the lakefront did not capture evidence on Moscowitz’ killing, according to police.
Investigators initially suggested Watts had been the victim of a robbery, but later said nothing was taken from him or Moscowitz.
The possibility of hate crime was also briefly floated — Watts was gay, and Moscowitz an Orthodox Jew — but investigators have since said that isn’t likely. The victims had no apparent connection, police have said.
After police dedicated an “unprecedented” 40 detectives to the case and hundreds of tips were called in, the investigation had apparently gone cold.
Authorities and community groups previously offered up to $23,000 in rewards for information leading to an arrest.
• Same gun used to shoot 2 men in the head at close range in Rogers Park: police
• Video shows masked man suspected in 2 Rogers Park murders, police say
• Loyola Park cameras come up empty in search for Rogers Park killer
• Community activist raises reward for info on Rogers Park killer to $23K