Updated: Oct. 12, 2010 5:15 p.m.
JOLIET, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – The Lynwood police officer charged in the so-called “State Line” murder case has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.
Officer Brian Dorian appeared for a hearing Tuesday afternoon at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet. Prosecutors offered no new details of the case against Dorian, officer who appeared via video hook-up.
The 50-seat courtroom was packed with onlookers, including many who came to support Dorian. Another few dozen supporters remained outside.
Prosecutors have yet to present additional charges against Dorian, who has been charged only in the shooting death of Rolando Alonso, 45. Police have said the man who shot and killed Alonso at a construction site in rural Beecher in Will County also shot and critically wounded another man at the scene, and then later shot and injured a farmer in Lowell, Ind.
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His bond was previously set at $2.5 million in the warrant for his arrest.
Dorian was arrested early Friday on the first-degree murder warrant, after police pulled over a truck that looked like the one described as being driven by the killer.
The shooting spree began about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday of last week, at a house being renovated near Beecher and about 40 minutes later at a farmhouse near Lowell, Ind.
Killed in the shooting spree was Rolando Alonso, 45, of Hammond, Ind., a father of six children and four stepchildren. Joshua Garza, 19, also of Hammond, was in critical condition in Christ Advocate Hospital in Oak Lawn. Both men worked for Rich Construction based in Dyer, Ind.
Wounded at the farmhouse was Lowell farmer Keith Dahl, who played dead to survive until the gunman escaped.
But while family members may be relieved at the arrest, Dorian’s family most assuredly is not. About 50 of Dorian’s family members and friends were in court Tuesday, many of them wearing “Free Brian Dorian” T-shirts.
“My thoughts are an innocent man’s gonna be proven innocent shortly,” his mother Diane Dorian said. “And I feel so sorry for those victims out there and their families. This guy is still loose. That’s all I have to say.”
Family members are showing Dorian support, and claiming police have the wrong suspect. Rather, Dorian’s family says he is a loving son and brother.
“Brian, you have always been my hero. I’ve always been the biggest fan, and I really hope that they do their job and get you back home to us, because the whole family and your friends, your niece – everybody wants you home,” said the suspect’s sister, Tara.
At least one fellow police officer was among the 30 people who gathered together Monday night to fight for the man who they say is wrongfully accused. Many wore T-shirts calling for his immediate release.
“Where do we go from here? I’m not going to rest until Brian’s out; until this is over,” said Lynwood police Sgt. Tim Smith, “and neither is anybody here.”
But Kristina Garza, the aunt of one of shooting victim Joshua Garza, said her nephew would be able to identify Dorian as the gunman.
“He made it very clear. He looked at those three boys that day and he said ‘I don’t envy you guys’ and he shot them. He shot my nephew in the head,” Garza said, holding back tears. “So, you know, at this point, you know, you have your rights and I respect that and the system will take its course and justice will be served and at that point, right back at you, I don’t envy you either.”
And authorities have insisted they have their man. They said Dorian shot and killed Alonso and wounded Garza, then shot Dahl without warning 45 minutes later.
Still, Dorian’s mother is convinced that Will County authorities have rushed to judge her son. She says the quick arrest reminds her of the Riley Fox murder case, where Will County authorities focused on the wrong man. She says her son isn’t capable of such unspeakable crimes.
“My first-born child; the greatest kid on his earth – he’s never given me trouble all his life,” Diane Dorian said, “and you turn around and he gets thrown into jail for some crime outrageous that no way he could have done?”
Also in court Tuesday were family members of Dylan Drapeau, who died in a fatal crash with Dorian in June 2006. Dorian was speeding in the crash that killed Drapeau, then 17, on Richton Road in Crete.
Dorian was off-duty at the time.
While Drapeau’s family pushed for a reckless homicide charge at the time, Dorian was only cited for speeding. An Illinois State Police crash reconstruction report concluded Dorian was traveling between 83 mph and 100 mph — well above the 55-mph speed limit — at the time his GMC truck crashed into the’s car.
Now, Drapeau’s family says if had Dorian been properly punished after the accident, the State Line murders may never have happened.
Meanwhile, Dorian’s boss, police Chief Russell Pearson, is asking the public not to rush to judgment about one of his officers accused of murdering one man and wounding two others in a spree of violence last week.
Pearson, in a statement made public Tuesday, said: “I hope everyone will not rush to judgment and remember every American including police officers accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. It is the evidence which will prove innocence or guilt of Brian Dorian or anyone else being investigated for this crime.’’
In an interview Tuesday before the hearing, Pearson said he placed Dorian on paid administrative leave Monday because of departmental policy that requires it “when an officer is charged with a crime that can lead to suspension or termination.”
Pearson said Dorian’s status may change to non-paid administrative leave if more evidence surfaces showing the officer’s involvement in the shootings.
“I’m not going to fire a guy until I know the evidence is there to make him a viable suspect,” Pearson said. “I want to see more evidence from Will County first. There’s been a lot of damage done to his reputation and life if he is not guilty.”
Sources say surviving victim Dahl, and a third man at the Beecher construction site, both positively identified Dorian as the shooter.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli, Mike Parker and Jim Williams; Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts; and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.