Special Forces sergeant Duke Webb pleaded not guilty of murder and other charges in a December shooting at an Illinois bowling alley and bar.
Duke Webb, 37, an Operations and Intelligence Sergeant from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin, AFB, faces three counts of murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder for wounding three others in the shooting at Don Carter Lanes and Shooters Bar and Grill, in Rockford, Illinois on December 26. Webb pleaded not guilty via teleconference video from the jail in Winnebago County, Illinois, where he is being held without bond.
Prosecutors say Webb killed 69-year-old Jerome Woodfork, 73-year-old Dennis Steinhoff, and 65-year-old Thomas Furseth. They say he also wounded two teenagers and a 62-year-old man.
According to the police reports filed the night of the shooting, Webb admitted to the shootings as soon as police officers arrived on the scene, showing officers where he had placed two guns he had brought with him — a Glock .40 caliber and a Glock .380 caliber. He didn’t attempt to leave the scene of the shooting.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bowling alley was closed but the bar in the second story of the building, as well as a food take-out location near the ground floor entrance, were open. According to eyewitness statements, Webb entered the ground floor of the building and shot two teenagers, a 16-year old girl, and a 14-year old boy who was shot in the face; both survived.
Allegedly Webb then shot Furseth, who ran upstairs to warn bar patrons, he was then shot again in the torso and died. Woodfork and Steinhoff were shot in the bar, which was filled with about 25 customers. Woodfork fell off the second-story balcony and was found in the parking lot below.
Webb’s former lawyer, Elizabeth Bucko, said in a preliminary hearing that Webb may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is now represented by Damon Cheronis.
Webb served four tours in Afghanistan and has been awarded the Bronze Star twice. His last tour in Afghanistan ended in July.
Initially, the police reported that the shooting appeared as completely a random act: Webb was on leave visiting family members at the time of the incident. However, WREX-13 news has reported that while there wasn’t any connection between Webb and the victims, there may well have been a connection between Webb and the location.
According to the WREX-13 piece, about a month prior to the shootings, an employee from the Shooters Bar and Grill was involved in an automobile accident and charged with a DUI. One of the victims involved in the crash was transported to a local hospital, although that person’s identity isn’t yet known. A passenger in the car driven by the Shooters Bar and Grill employee was Guadalupe Gonzalez. Gonzalez, according to court records obtained by the television station, is Webb’s father. It isn’t known if that car wreck in any way contributed to the events that unfolded in December, but at least it gives police officials a path to investigate in relation to a motive.
At the time of the shooting, Maj. Gen. John Brennan, commander of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), said in a statement that Webb’s alleged actions were “shocking” and “completely out of character” with Webb’s 12 years of honorable service.
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