ROCK FALLS – Police have released the names of the four people involved in shootings in front of Lamb’s Tap early Saturday morning.
At 12:41 a.m., Rock Falls Police received a 911 call from the bar at 215 W. Second St. saying that shots had been fired near the bar. When police arrived, Fredrick A. Michels, 34, of Rock Falls, was found dead on the sidewalk in front of the bar. Michels had been shot multiple times.
Two Sterling men, Jason Chapman, 37, and David Adams, 22, were also shot and found on the sidewalk in the 200 block of West Second Street. Both were taken to CGH Medical Center, police said. Chapman was later taken to St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he remained Sunday, after leaving the intensive care unit. Adams was released from CGH.
The suspect in the shootings, Leonard “Frank” Harris Jr., 40, of Sterling, fled the scene, police said.
Sterling Police saw Harris walking north across the First Avenue Bridge into Sterling and pursued him on foot. Harris entered his house in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue. Shortly after, police said they heard a gunshot.
Whiteside County Tactical Response team members then entered the house and Harris was found dead in his garage from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Harris was a 15-year City of Rock Falls employee.
Autopsies were done at CGH Medical Center on Saturday morning, police said. No time frame was given for when the autopsy results might be available.
The case remains under investigation, and police would not disclose any further details Sunday.
Lamb’s Tap owner Barb Lamb refused to comment, saying police had told her not to speak publicly about the shootings.
Later Saturday morning, merchants on West Second Avenue were shocked and saddened by the shootings, but trying to keep things as normal as possible.
An employee at another neighborhood bar, who wished to remain anonymous, said she didn’t know about the shootings until she arrived to work that morning.
“If I had known before, I probably wouldn’t have come in today,” she said. “It’s a sad, depressing day.”
She said she knew Harris, and she would have never expected him to be involved in something so violent.
“It was a real shocker,” she said. “He was a friend of everybody around here, and if you knew him, you thought he was a good guy.”
A resident of Rock Falls, she said these things can happen anywhere, and that living in fear is not really living.
“This is the way we live our lives,” she said. “Unfortunately, people we know do stupid things. We have just gotten used to losing people.”
Ricardo Rangel, owner of Rock Falls Pawn on Second Street, spends much of his time in Rock Falls, but still lives in the Quad Cities. He doesn’t feel as if the violence in the Sauk Valley is any worse than most places.
“It’s really a shame that these guys are dead, but unfortunately, this stuff can happen anywhere, and there’s no way to prevent it,” Rangel said. “I think it can seem worse in a small town, because it’s publicized more.”
Rangel, who had his two young children in the shop with him, said he still feels safe in his shop during the day and early-evening hours. He believes that an oft-heard saying applies in any town.
“You figure nothing good happens in bars after hours,” Rangel said.
Katie Christian, who lives near the shooting scene, wasn’t nearly as calm after the latest act of violence in her neighborhood.
She said the shootings brought back memories of Nick Sheley and the four people killed in Rock Falls in June of 2008.
“These things are even scarier after everything with Nick Sheley,” Christian said. “That didn’t happen far from my house, either.”
Christian said she worries about her daughter and hopes that Saturday’s shootings bring public safety changes.
“We need more police and security in this area,” she said. “I have a little girl, and I worry about her safety.”