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LYNWOOD, Ill. - Authorities said Friday they arrested a small-town police officer in a series of apparently random shootings along the Illinois-Indiana border that left one man dead and another two wounded.
The case has unnerved residents in the rural towns since the shootings began earlier this week. Investigators said a disheveled man approached his victims with strange questions, asking about honeybees or construction material, before pulling out a gun.
Brian Dorian, 37, was arrested on a murder warrant and held on $2.5 million bail, said Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the Will County state's attorney's office. Dorian was arrested at his home in northeastern Illinois and held at a jail in Joliet, said Kathy Hoffmeyer, a spokeswoman for the Will County sheriff's department.
Dorian, a police officer in Lynwood, has been on medial leave with an injured shoulder since October 2009, said Eugene Williams, mayor of the village of about 7,400 people on the Illinois-Indiana border. Lynwood is about 30 miles south of Chicago.
Williams did not have any other details but said he was told last week that Dorian would not be returning to duty soon. He said he knows the officer casually and, until Friday morning, knew of no problems with or concerns about him, other than his injured shoulder.
"He seems like a regular guy to me," Williams said. "It's so disappointing to say that because you always wish you could have picked out something (but) he was always polite, just like the rest of the guys."
Dorian's neighbor in nearby Crete, Robin Schmitz, said Dorian never showed any signs of being "mentally unbalanced," and even as recently as Thursday, "he didn't seem freaked out at all" when she talked to him.
The officer told her then that he was going to a college reunion over the weekend and asked whether she would look after his house, she said. She added that he never talked about bees.
"I'm floored," she said of the shootings. "I don't believe he did it."
The apparently random shootings began about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at a work site in Illinois and ended about an hour later across the state line on an Indiana farm.
One of the victims, Rolando Alonso, 45, of Hammond, Ind., was shot fatally in the head. He was working for a construction company near Beecher, Ill., when the gunman began a conversation, then started shooting.
Another worker, Joshua Garza, 19, of Dyer, Ind., was wounded. A third worker escaped into a cornfield.
Later on Tuesday morning, a farmer, Keith Dahl, 64, was wounded near Lowell, Ind.
Garza's great-aunt Peggy Cassoday of Rensselaer, told the Times of Munster that the suspect asked about scrap wood.
"(The shooter) says, 'What about this wood? What are going to do with it?' My nephew said, 'You can take whatever you want.' So the guy took four or five steps away from him, turned around and when Josh picked up the wheelbarrow to move it, the guy turned around and started shooting," Cassoday said.
"He was bent over," Cassoday said. "That was the only thing that saved his life."
Dorian's history includes a conviction for speeding after a 2006 traffic accident in which a teenager was killed.
According to an attorney involved with the case, Dorian was driving a pickup truck more than 80 mph in a 55 mph zone on a Will County road when 17-year-old Dylan Drapeau pulled his car out into the path of Dorian's pickup truck. Dorian, who did not have a stop sign, attempted to avoid a collision but could not, said Gregory DeBord, a former county prosecutor.
At the time, the boy's family pushed for prosecutors to charge Dorian with reckless homicide, but DeBord said after an investigation that include an accident reconstruction, it was determined the only thing Dorian could be charged with was speeding. He said there was no indication that either of the two drivers had alcohol or drugs in their systems, and Drapeau failed to yield to traffic when he pulled his car into the intersection.
In 2008, the then chief of police in Lynwood, defended the investigation into the accident and the conclusions. David Palmer told the Chicago Tribune that Dorian admitted he was speeding and that he was doing so in an effort to rush for repairs after the "check engine" light started flashing.
After the accident, Dorian said he received harassing phone calls and threats that left him fearing for his life, Schmitz said. She said he was clearly shaken.
"But, she added, "He seemed to have gotten over the accident."
Associated Press Writers Carla K. Johnson and Don Babwin contributed to this report from Chicago.