PARIS — Sunday evening’s deadly shooting at the Great Lakes Dragaway was not a random act of violence and appears gang-related, according to the Kenosha County sheriff.
At a Monday afternoon press conference at the racetrack, Sheriff David Beth said the three men killed are all from northern Illinois and were involved in a gang.
“I really think that this is an issue that came from Illinois, moved up here, possibly was connected with Milwaukee,” Beth said.
Beth did not confirm that the killings were gang-related, but said all evidence strongly indicates that they were. Beth declined to say which gangs he believes are involved.
“We do believe that the three people who are deceased are members of a gang out of Illinois,” Beth said. “We do not have anyone in custody.”
David L. Watson, 30, of Oswego, Ill.; Khalid R. Howard, 30, of Aurora, Ill.; and Derek K. Edwards, 26, of North Aurora, Ill., were killed as they stood near a food vending area set up in a parking lot at the dragaway, 18411 First St. (Highway KR).
Edwards and Howard died on the scene, and Watson died while being transported to a local hospital.
Beth said the shooter “walked up to the three that are now dead and basically just shot them point-blank.”
“He knew what his targets were. He shot two of them; the third one ran around to the side of the tent, he shot him, and then he came back up and shot a few more shots into the two that were lying there,” Beth said. “He had enough time and enough arrogance to go back up and actually make sure they were dead.”
Beth said family members of the victims “were not cooperative at all with the entire investigation,” which has made investigators’ jobs much more difficult.
Emergency crews responded to a call of shots fired at the site at 6:59 p.m. Sunday. Investigators worked to process the scene until the early morning and started combing for evidence again midday.
The suspect, who shot the men with what is believed to be a pistol, has not been identified. The weapon has also not been recovered, Beth said.
Beth said the shooter is a black man between 20 and 30 years old with shaved hair on the sides and a “scruffy” top. He has a thin build and is about 5 feet 9 inches tall.
He was last seen fleeing on foot, Beth said, and then left the area in an unknown vehicle. Beth said his office has received conflicting reports about the clothes the shooter wore.
“I don’t know the reason for this location. Our detectives have not found out anything to say why this was the spot that it occurred,” Beth said.
The shooting took place during Larry’s Fun Fest, an annual festival that draws thousands of car lovers and families each year to the area, according to Brian Mitchell, a manager at the dragaway.
“The people who do this wanted to do it here because they wanted to get away from the riffraff,” Mitchell said Sunday night. “We’ve never even had so much as a fistfight, and one bad egg has to ruin it for them.”
Beth said as many as 15,000 people were at the track Sunday evening.
“It was a huge burden getting that traffic out of here last night,” Beth said.
Anyone with information or video of the incident is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 262-605-5100.
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department is being assisted by the Kenosha Police Department and authorities in Milwaukee, Chicago and northern Illinois. The FBI is also involved.