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Police Confirm Link Between Robbery, ‘Honeybee’ Shootings

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Photo Of Gary Amaya. (CBS)

Photo Of Gary Amaya. (CBS)

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Updated: 12/16/10 6:05 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – His looks, his gun, his vehicle: they all match. Authorities confirmed the connections between the shooting death of a robbery suspect at an Orland Park tanning salon and the two-state October shooting spree, but stopped short of saying the suspect in the two cases is one and the same.

Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas, Lake County, Ind., Sheriff Roy Dominguez and other local authorities held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the connection between the armed robber shot to death at L.A. Tan and the “honeybee killer” responsible for a shooting spree along the Illinois-Indiana border.

Ballistics tests on the Colt .38 Special found on the gunman at L.A. Tan confirm it’s the same weapon that was used by the honeybee killer.

While Kaupas confirmed that the gun used in both incidents were the same, he stopped short of making a clear determination that the gunman in the Orland Park robbery, Gary Amaya, was also the suspect in the “honeybee killer” shootings.

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“At this time, there is still forensic evidence that’s being examined in reference to this case,” Kaupas said.

But the connections between the crimes are adding up fast.

Amaya, 48, of downstate Rankin was killed Saturday evening by a tanning salon customer who was able to get control of Amaya’s gun.

Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said Amaya’s DNA has been sent to a crime lab. Investigators want to determine whether Amaya may have been involved in any unsolved crimes.

Orland Park is northwest of the Illinois-Indiana border area where the gunman in the October attacks struck.

The shooter shot at three construction workers near Beecher, Ill. killing one of them, and later shot and wounded a farmer in Lowell, Ind. after asking the farmer about honeybees.

Sheriff Kaupas says that Amaya previously lived in Grundy County where he managed property that had a honeybee farm on it.

At Thursday’s news conference, Sheriff Roy Dominguez said Keith Dahl, the farmer shot in Lowell, Ind. “unequivocally identified Gary Amaya as the person who shot him.”

Authorities say Dahl first saw Amaya’s picture after his wife called it up on her computer. He put a ruler over the forehead and said, “that’s the man who shot me.”

Because the suspect who shot him was wearing a ball cap. A ball cap was also found in the pick-up truck.

Dahl also gave a description of the suspect’s truck, a light blue Cheyenne pick-up with Illinois plates, that matched the truck found in Orland Park, belonging to Amaya.

But why this loner, who lived in a trailer in the woods, would want to kill people is still a mystery.

“Nobody could give us a clear motive. Not a possible motive, no motive at all,” said Kaupas.

Although Amaya announced a robbery at L.A. Tan, the victims say that never made sense. They were prepared for worse.

“Both feared for their life that this was going to be more than a robbery. As most people know, these tanning salons really don’t handle a lot of cash,” said McCarthy.

Authorities searched Amaya’s Rankin home as well as his pickup truck, finding items such as rope, handcuffs, weapons and ammunition.

Detectives are interviewing family members, friends and previous employers of Amaya to gather more information.

Surveillance video from the weekend robbery and subsequent shooting at the L.A. Tan salon in Orland Park was released Tuesday.

The video shows the dramatic moments inside a tanning salon, as a customer confronts and then kills Amaya.

Meantime, the woman who says she was almost another victim of Amaya is telling her chilling story of survival to the Chicago Sun-Times.

She says Amaya forced her into his blue Chevy pick-up early Saturday but she managed to escape.

Most likely people do not need to worry about the “honeybee killer” striking again. But authorities won’t say that officially — until forensics tests come in.

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