CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) – Law enforcement officials are forming a bi-state task force to search for the killer who shot three people in Illinois and Indiana earlier this week.
“We’re using all of our resources every day, 24/7, to make sure that we apprehend the suspect,” Lake County, Ind., Chief Roy Dominguez said. His department will join with the Will County sheriff’s office to find the man who shot two people – killing one – near Beecher, Ill., and then shot a third man in Lowell, Ind.
In addition, the Indiana State Police have come up with a new composite sketch of the suspect, which they planned to release later Thursday.
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Meanwhile, two of the victims remain hospitalized. Farmer Keith Dahl, 62, is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds at St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point, Ind. He is expected to recover. Dahl survived the second of the two shootings Tuesday, in Lowell, Ind., by playing dead.
Also still hospitalized is construction worker Joshua Garza, 19, of Hammond, Ind., who was initially taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in very critical condition. He was wounded in the first of the two shootings, which left another worker, Rolando Alonso, 45, of Hammond, dead.
Dominguez said detectives have retrieved bullets from the scenes of both shootings, and ballistic analysts have found that they have similar characteristics. They are being sent out for further analysis, Dominguez said.
Dominguez said otherwise, nothing has changed in the case. He emphasized that “the suspect is still at large, that there are no other incidents related to the suspect at large, (and) that his vehicle is not in our custody.”
“We also want to say to the community that we are working on this – all the entire community – and we are doing our very best to apprehend this person,” Dominguez said.
Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas said he hopes the combined efforts of two sheriff’s departments will produce results.
“We’re trying to give all resources we have to this incident, and combining them with Lake County Sheriff’s office, hopefully we can apprehend the suspect in a short time,” Kaupas said.
In the first shooting Tuesday morning, Alonso, Garza and a third man were working on a repair job at a burned-out farmhouse at Stony Island Avenue and County Line Road near Beecher. The suspect drove up and asked about buying the place, then drove off.
A short time later, the man returned and asked about building materials. Then suddenly, without warning, he pulled out a .38 or .357 revolver and started shooting. Alonso, a father of 10, lost his life on only his second day on the job.
His wife, Claudia Gonzalez, was devastated.
“It’s very hard for me,” Gonzalez said tearfully in an interview with CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot Wednesday. “I just can’t imagine my life without him, and my kids. It’s too hard for me.”
The killer also opened fire on a third construction worker, who escaped into a cornfield and called 911.
In the second shooting, the suspect approached Dahl at his farmhouse at near 201st Street and Cline Avenue, and asked for his wallet. Dahl refused. The suspect then said something about honeybees in the area, pulled a gun and shot Dahl three times; in the shoulder, the left arm and the elbow. He then robbed him. Dahl played dead and the suspect drove off. Dahl is wounded, but survived the shooting. He is in stable condition at St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point, Ind.
Given the reference to bees, the shootings frighten Ed Rice, who is raising as many as 800,000 bees on his 3 acres in Calumet Township, Ind. He teaches beekeeping classes but did not recognize the man in the sketch as a former student.
He said he got a text message from his grandchildren warning him not to talk to strangers about his beekeeping.
“I keep looking over my shoulder,” Rice said.
Police say the suspect is described as a white heavyset man in his 30s or 40s, about 5’10” to 6′ tall, weighing between 220 and 260 pounds. Police say he looked disheveled when he was last seen, wearing a greenish blue jacket, baseball hat and light-colored jeans. He is driving a 1990s light-colored Chevrolet or Ford pickup truck with a noisy muffler.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli contributed to this report.