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Details on fatal shooting in Rock Falls under wraps

Rock Falls students wear school colors

ROCK FALLS – State police released few details Monday about its investigation into a fatal shooting at a state police trooper’s house that authorities are calling an accident.

It took more than 2 days for the state police to publicly release the town where the shooting of Matt Anderson, 15, occurred. Over the weekend, the agency said in a release that the death happened in State Police District 1, which includes Whiteside, Lee, Carroll and Ogle counties.

Monday afternoon, a state police spokeswoman disclosed that the shooting happened in the Rock Falls area, apparently in the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. No address was given.

According to state police, the shooting occurred at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at the trooper’s home.

“Based on preliminary investigative findings, one of the male teenagers unrelated to the trooper’s family suffered a fatal gunshot wound,” state police said in a weekend news release.

State police have not released names of the trooper or the youth who fired the weapon. Late this afternoon, state police released the victim’s name. Sauk Valley Media had already obtained his name through other sources.

“Other than the statement, I will not be able to provide any other information,” state police Lt. Victor Markowski, interim commander for Zone 2 investigations, said in response to questions.

He wouldn’t say when state police would reveal more information.

State police spokeswoman Monique Bond wouldn’t provide the trooper’s name, but she said he worked in a district other than the one in which he lived.

Asked why releasing the trooper’s name would compromise the state’s inquiry, Bond responded in an email: “The name of the officer is not being released due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation.”

Law enforcement agencies often send cases with connections to one of their own to other departments for investigation.

In this case, the internal investigations division of state police is investigating, Bond said.

“Although this did not involve the officer, the investigation will be thorough with input from the state’s attorney’s office,” she said in the email. “It was mutually agreed with the sheriff’s office that our investigative resources are more comprehensive than the local sheriff’s, and collectively, we believe that evidence and facts will be presented to the state’s attorney’s office in a fair manner.”

State police waited more than 2 days to release the name of the victim, an unusual delay. Agencies in the Sauk Valley have an informal policy of waiting a day to release the names of victims of fatal shootings, although such information is usually widespread long before then.

In early January, for example, it took a little more than a day for Rock Falls police to release the name of the victim and suspect in a fatal shooting outside a bar.

At Rock Falls High School today, many students wore green and black in honor of Anderson, a freshman basketball player who had come from Rock Falls’ East Coloma school district.

Near the end of the school day, students were informed through the public address system about the times for Anderson’s memorial service and visitation. Visitation will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Harvest Time Bible Church in Rock Falls. The funeral will follow.

Casondra Near, 17, who was walking home from school this afternoon, was among those wearing the school colors. She said Anderson’s father had been her basketball coach at East Coloma.

It was a sad day for students, she said.

“Teachers were crying,” she said. “He was well-liked and active in sports.”

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