An “adult-themed” party bus was the scene of a triple homicide Saturday, April 7, and police in Illinois are now searching for the gunman.
Authorities allege that 22-year-old Raheem King used what they are reporting as an assault rifle to shoot three other passengers as the vehicle was traveling on the city’s west side, according to the Rockford Register Star. The driver continued for a few blocks before stopping at a gas station where he dialed 911. King and the rest of the passengers fled the scene.
Police say King is believed to be armed and should be considered dangerous.
All three victims were males. Their identities have not been released pending a coroner’s investigation and notification of their families. It was initially unclear why the group chartered the bus. It was later learned that King organized the party and started advertising it on Facebook Wednesday, April 4.
“Party bus on Friday I’m charging 25$ a head,” Wednesday’s post reads. On Friday he wrote, “Who all getting on da bus let me know now.”
The bus is owned by Distinguished Gentleman, a private entertainment company. The company’s buses are commonly chartered for parties featuring strippers.
Details about how a military-style rifle was brought onto the bus or if any other weapons were recovered have not been released.
King now faces four counts of first-degree murder and is at large.
Although Rockford’s 2017 crime stats showed an improvement over the previous year, it is still the FBI’s third most dangerous city in the country behind St. Louis and Memphis, respectively, reported Efficient Gov.
According to numbers released by the city, property crime was down eight percent last year, while violent crimes were down five percent. There were 11 fewer aggravated assaults and 122 fewer robberies.
There were 18 homicides in Rockford in 2017, down from 26 the year before. The city’s homicide rate peaked in 1996, when there were 31 killings.
Saturday’s shooting was the third involving more than one victim in recent months. In February, a Rockford man killed his estranged wife and her boyfriend before turning the gun on himself during a police chase. Last month, two students were shot and killed by their father before he took his own life inside their suburban home.
Officials say the city is making progress, but still has a long way to go to make a serious dent in violent crimes. That is why first-term Mayor Tom McNamara said keeping the city safe is his top priority.
“City Council and myself have committed that public safety is the No. 1 concern in our community,” he told the Rock River Times. The council is not only committed with their thoughts, but with their actions.”
Rockford has recently made several technological upgrades to its police force. They include a gunshot detection system, license plate readers, and social-media analytic software. The department has also hired 17 new officers.