By Dee Longfellow

FOR THE ELMHURST INDEPENDENT

In its July 9 edition, the Elmhurst Independent reported the story about 22-year-old Alec Gonzales, who had been arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting a 55-year-old Elmhurst man who was out walking his dog.

Gonzales was also charged with one count of aggravated battery for discharging a firearm.

According to the complaint filed in DuPage County on June 25, it is alleged that on May 14 at approximately 8:52 p.m., Gonzales, “without legal justification and with the intent to kill … personally discharged a firearm, a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, eight times in the direction of and striking” …(the victim)… “in the flank and grazing his scalp.”

Following the incident, Gonzales reportedly fled to Mesa, Ariz., where he also has a residence, besides in Elmhurst. On June 25, he was arrested by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department on an outstanding warrant issued by the Elmhurst Police Department and extradition proceedings began to return Gonzales to Illinois.

According to Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth, Gonzales was brought back two weeks ago and is currently in the DuPage County jail, where he is being held without bond.

“The motive appears to be completely random,” Ruth said. “There was no reason whatsoever and that has everyone baffled. When we spoke with him, he opted not to talk to us, nor did he surrender any information.”

Ruth believes there is a good chance for a conviction based on the investigation.

“We feel our evidence is strong against him,” he said. “We had a lot of community support, a lot of people have outdoor cameras and were able to provide footage so we could piece together a significant amount of evidence. For instance, we have him [on camera] driving to and from the shooting scene.”

The weapon was recovered, Ruth said. Gonzales allegedly dropped it in a garbage dumpster about two blocks away from the scene.

Chief offers department updates

Asked how the police force was doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruth said a few officers tested positive and came down with the flu, but then recovered and bounced right back.

“We have to work with masks on, but like everyone else, we have to get used to putting it on and off,” he said. “And of course, we keep up social distancing. But it’s difficult in a domestic situation where people are fighting and we have to intervene.”

The police chief said the department usually holds its daily roll calls in a room, sitting around tables, but now they are mostly done outdoors. He added that cars are being wiped down and cleaned more thoroughly since the virus reared its head.

Ruth also mentioned that drug overdoses seem to be up during this time of COVID-19. He said that since July 1, there had been 14 overdoses, nine of which were heroin. He said Narcan® was used in seven of them.

“There was one fatality of a 26-year-old man, who overdosed on April 26,” Ruth said. “We tried to use Narcan on the young man, but we couldn’t bring him back.

“Overall, year to date, I’d say overdose incidents have probably doubled.”

Ruth weighs in on national law enforcement issue

The Independent asked how the Elmhurst Police Department was faring, considering the focus on law enforcement across the country lately.

“We have an accredited agency, which investigates our policies, and I am happy to say that regarding all the issues in other communities that I read about, we’re ahead of the curve,” he said. “We made some big changes in 2013 and 2014, so we’re already using procedures that other police departments are just now putting into place.

“We need to hold our people accountable, and the people in the community want transparency. The community has a right to a capable and competent police force.”

 

Comments are closed

Sorry, but you cannot leave a comment for this post.