Officer cleared in shootings in Illinois, Indiana
Authorities uncovered evidence that the officer was at his house during the first shooting
By Michael Tarm
JOLIET, Ill. — With the real gunman in a pair of shootings on the Illinois-Indiana border still on the loose, prosecutors faced questions about their handling of an investigation that led to the arrest of a small-town police officer they now say couldn't have committed the crimes.
Will County States Attorney James Glasgow announced Tuesday night that Brian Dorian, 37, was being released after authorities uncovered evidence that showed Dorian was at his house during the first shooting. One person was killed and two others wounded in the two shootings on Oct. 5.
Glasgow said the first-degree murder charge against Dorian would be formally dismissed at a court hearing Wednesday morning.
"It would have been physically impossible for Brian Dorian to have committed this crime," Glasgow said.
Dorian's family, friends and other law enforcement officers criticized prosecutors and some noted the gunman still hasn't been caught.
Robin Schmitz, Dorian's neighbor, said many in the area were fearful the apparently random shootings may continue.
"It makes me scared," she said. "Who's this psycho who is out there?"
Prosecutors said they were pursuing other leads, although they did not elaborate.
Dorian was arrested Friday at his home in Crete after a search for someone who allegedly asked his victims about honeybees or construction material before pulling a gun. Dorian is an officer with the Lynwood Police Department, 30 miles south of Chicago, not far from where the shootings took place.
Chuck Pelkie, spokesman for Glasgow's office, said a witness had identified Dorian as the shooter and Dorian's vehicle matched the gunman's.
But Pelkie said new evidence shows Dorian was on his computer until 11 a.m. the day of the shootings. The first shooting happened at 10:30 a.m. at a work site in Illinois. Ballistics from the gun in both shootings matched, meaning Dorian could not have been involved in the later one, Pelkie said.
Will County authorities have faced scrutiny before for their handling of high-profile cases, including the investigation into the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio, the third wife of former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson.
Savio's death was originally ruled an accidental drowning after her body was found in a dry bathtub. After Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed and the Will County state's attorney reclassified her death as a homicide in 2008. Drew Peterson has pleaded not guilty to Savio's murder. He has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
They also have faced criticism for the investigation into the death of 3-year-old Riley Fox, whose father spent eight months in jail on charges of first-degree murder and sexual assault in the Wilmington girl's drowning before DNA evidence showed he wasn't the killer.
Earlier this year, convicted sex offender Scott Eby was charged with first-degree murder and predatory criminal sexual assault in that case. Investigators were criticized for missing early clues, such as a pair of Eby's shoes left near the crime scene that had his name written inside them. Eby has pleaded not guilty.
Dorian's father, John Dorian, lashed out at prosecutors.
"They ought to prosecute (Glasgow) and put him behind bars," said the 71-year-old Dorian, reached by telephone at his home. "How can you arrest somebody for nothing? To be a policeman, to be innocent and then be behind bars?"
Lynwood police Chief Russell L. Pearson said prosecutors should apologize to Dorian, the police, the community and the victims of the shootings.
"Officer Dorian's reputation has been damaged, and his family and fellow officers have been dragged through the mud," Pearson said in a written statement.
Glasgow apologized to Dorian but also defended his office's actions.
"I feel horrible for Brian Dorian. And I certainly would apologize for any inconvenience that he has suffered," Glasgow said. "At the same time, he is a police officer, and if he were in our shoes, and he had a suspect under these circumstances, Brian Dorian would have acted the same way."
One of the victims, Rolando Alonso, 45, of Hammond, Ind., was shot fatally in the head while working for a construction company near Beecher, Ill. Another worker, Joshua Garza, 19, of Dyer, Ind., was wounded. A third worker escaped into a cornfield.
Later that day, a farmer, Keith Dahl, 64, was wounded near Lowell, Ind. Authorities in Indiana had not charged Dorian.
Kristina Garza, Joshua Garza's aunt, said she also was taken aback by prosecutors' reversal and called for someone else to step in and look at the evidence.
"Someone needs to take the reins and dig deeper," said Garza, an attorney.