Security Guard Fatally Shot at State Capitol

A gunman walked into the Illinois state Capitol Monday and fatally shot an unarmed security guard.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- A gunman walked into the state Capitol Monday and fatally shot an unarmed security guard, then walked out, put his gun in a car trunk and sped off as onlookers yelled for help.

Police say the shooter matched the description of a man involved in an apparent robbery attempt about an hour earlier at a nearby military surplus store and also in the theft of a shotgun from the same store a week before.

``There may be three criminal events linked to this one person. Right now, I can't think of any reason for this individual to stop committing criminal acts,'' said Lt. Doug Williamson of the Springfield police.

He urged residents of the capital city to be cautious. Security was quickly tightened at nearby schools after the 1:38 p.m. shooting, and police said students near the Capitol who usually walk home alone were given escorts.

Acting on a tip about the shooting, police surrounded a Springfield apartment building a few hours later. The incident stretched into the evening with no word of an arrest.

The Capitol attack happened quickly, with the gunman entering the north entrance just long enough to fire a shot that hit the guard in the chest, said Col. Larry Schmidt, chief deputy director of the Secretary of State Police. The building doesn't have metal detectors, and the security guards are unarmed.

The victim died shortly afterward in a hospital operating room, Schmidt said.

Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, identified the guard as William Wozniak, a man he had known for about 30 years. He said Wozniak had a wife and two teenage children and had moved to the small community of Petersburg decades ago to escape the violence of Detroit.

``What can you say? He was just real friendly and outgoing,'' Brauer said. ``To me it's incredible that we have this guy that is in charge of security at the Capitol, and he's there with no protection at all. And a guy comes in with a gun.''

Authorities offered no possible motive for the attack.

Patti Kernebeck, a computer operator for the state Senate, said she heard the sound of the gun in her fourth floor office. Then she heard shouts of ``He shot somebody! Get him!''

On the first floor, Leslie Root, who works for state Sen. Chris Lauzen, described the nearby gunshot inside the Capitol as sounding like a bomb going off. She said the staff rushed inside the office and locked the door.

An announcement over the intercom ordered everyone to stay in their offices, and the building was locked down for about an hour.

Outside, police cars and ambulances surrounded the building, and officers roped off the entrance. Afterward, armed officers guarded the halls and everyone entering the building was required to sign in, rather than the usual procedure of simply showing a badge.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich was not in the Capitol at the time, and the Legislature is not in session.

At a news conference Monday night, Blagojevich expressed his sympathy to the victim's family and called for tighter security. He said he would talk with Secretary of State Jesse White about their options, which likely would include metal detectors and could include weapons for the security force.

Schmidt said no one saw the shooting take place but several people saw the suspect leaving. Officials were also reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in the area, he said.

Police said the shooting appears to be linked to an attempted robbery earlier in the day. Someone matching the description of the Capitol shooter and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun went into a nearby military surplus store, Birds N Brooks, at about 12:25 p.m. and demanded a high-powered rifle.

The man, described as white and about 20 years old, fled after the owner recognized him as someone who had stolen a shotgun on Sept. 14, said Springfield Deputy Police Chief Jim Burton. He said the shop owner locked himself in his office and began shooting through the door.

Schmidt said the Capitol gunman used either a rifle or a shotgun.

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