PARIS, Wis. -— Three Illinois men who were shot to death at point-blank range during a drag racing event in southeastern Wisconsin may have been targeted by a rival gang member but a lack of cooperation has stymied the investigation, sheriff's officials said Monday.
The three were fatally shot as they stood near a concession area in the parking lot of the Great Lakes Dragaway near Union Grove about 7 p.m. Sunday, according to Kenosha County sheriff's officials.
The victims were identified as David Watson, 30, Khalid Howard, 30, and Derek Edwards, 26.
The shooter remains at large, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said Monday. A lack of cooperation has made his detectives' work harder, he added.
"Some of the family members, some of the people involved, are not very cooperative with law enforcement. And, that's making it more difficult to investigate this whole thing," Beth said on WTMJ-AM.
Beth said that one of the victim's fathers is a high-ranking member of an Illinois gang and that all three victims were members of the same gang. All three victims are from the western suburbs of Chicago.
"It appears that he walked up to the three that are now dead and basically shot them point blank. So he knew what his targets were, he shot two of them, the third one ran to the side of the tent he shot him, and then he came back up and fired a few more shots into the two that were laying there," Beth said. "So there are multiple shots here and he had enough time and enough arrogance to go back up and make sure they were dead."
Two of the men died at the scene and the third died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.
Willie Coleman says the three victims were buying food from his booth when the shooting happened. Coleman owns Baby Back Willie's Barbecue in Milwaukee and has been coming to sell food at the drag strip for several years.
Coleman says on Sunday night, he was cooking at the grill when he suddenly heard between 12 and 14 gunshots.
"We were putting cheese on the burgers and he walked right up to them and started shooting," said Coleman.
Beth urged any witnesses to the shooting to contact his department.
"A lot of people may not have wanted to come up and talk to the sheriff's department initially because maybe they were afraid someone was going to see them," Beth said. "So what I'm hoping happens is someone who knows what's going on or saw what happened will call us, give us more information and help us catch the individual who did this."
A woman who asked not to be identified told TODAY'S TMJ4 that she was there with her family and was standing next to her car when a bullet flew by and struck her vehicle.
“It’s crazy. It’s something you don’t expect. You come out here to enjoy time with your family and this is what happens. It’s sad,” she said.
The shooter is described as a black man, between 20 and 30 years old, with black scruffy hair and the sides of his head shaved. Beth said Monday that they've received conflicting reports of his clothing.
The sheriff's office estimated that more than 5,000 people were at the raceway for an event known as "Larry's Fun Fest." The track's website shows the event included drag racing, tailgating, live entertainment and a car show.
Paris is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Milwaukee.