On Sunday morning at 10:07 am, a 73 year old man, Douglass Watts, was just returning home from walking his dog. He was shot in the head and the assailant ran away through a nearby alley.
On Monday night around 10:20 pm, a 24 year old man, Eliyahu Moscowicz, was walking on a path at a local park. He, too, was shot in the head at close range. Ellie, as he was known to his friends, worked at one of the grocery stores where I shop. He was tall and had kind eyes.
On Tuesday morning, the Chicago Police Department revealed that the same gun was used to kill both men, per ballistics reports.
On Wednesday evening, at a community meeting to address the shootings, CPD First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio stated, “We believe the individual lives in this community. He’s somebody’s neighbor. Somebody in this room probably knows this guy,” as reported by Jonathan Ballew in his Block Club Chicago article.
I live two miles away from these murders, which occurred just blocks away from one another. Some friends live a few doors down from where Mr. Watts was killed. My husband and I know many folks in the neighborhood.
Those of us who live here have been cautioned to keep going about our daily routine, to not feel homebound, to get outside (but not alone), to find someone to walk with, to be vigilant, to carry a whistle.
Oy, I think to myself, a whistle is not going to help in this situation. And, right now, typing these words, I pause, wondering if the murderer might somehow see this post and target me, my kids, my home, my husband.
The random nature of these killings has me on edge. A man is out walking his dog on a bright Sunday morning. He is executed steps from his home. Another man is taking an evening walk after one of the Jewish holidays. I think about his family and how every year moving forward they will feel the weight of their loss as the high holidays near, as the days grow a bit shorter, as the air begins to cool, as the seasons turn.
I scroll through my Facebook feed and see the fear I feel mirrored in my friends’ posts. “There seems to be a serial killer operating in my neighborhood,” wrote one. Another shares a gofundme to raise money to bury the first victim, “We didn’t know this man, but he was our neighbor, and we are all reeling from this random act of violence in our neighborhood.”
The neighborhood boards on Facebook are full of people trying to process their fear, their worry, their concern, their terror. Dog owners are looking for fellow dog owners to partner with for their morning and evening walks. A black man offers to walk dogs with anyone who needs a partner, offers concern that there are stories the suspect is black and killing white victims, ends his post with #I’llwalkwithyou, pairing it with a photo of him holding his tiny dog.
Others worry that with a greater police presence and so many people and neighbors living in fear, people of color are at greater risk for others calling the police on them simply for living, working, walking in their own neighborhood. The Alderman is sending out regular alerts, with information and updates.
There is a frantic spectrum of “This is nothing new and has always been the case in Rogers Park,” to “I love my neighborhood and my community. Does anyone want to start a block club, or meet up for drinks tonight so we can get to know one another?”
Whew. It’s a lot to take in.
The detail I keep coming back to, that I keep thinking about, is that the killer knows the neighborhood. He knew where to run after he pulled the trigger that first time. He felt comfortable enough on a Sunday morning to run through the streets and alleys after killing his first victim. He felt emboldened enough to do it again the next day.
Last night the police released video of the suspect. He has a distinct gait, his toes pointed out, like a duck. Somewhere, close by, there is a man who walks like a duck and carries a gun and, when the spirit moves him, will shoot you in the head at close range.
As if 2018 wasn’t hard enough already.