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State police explain inquiry's secrecy in death of 15-year-old

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 4:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:31 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
The Rock Falls basketball team and their fans embrace after an emotional loss to Mendota. The school lost a student to an accidental shooting.

ROCK FALLS – State police aren't treating the investigation into the death of a 15-year-old at a state trooper's house any differently from others, a spokeswoman insisted Tuesday.

The agency has been keeping much of the information about the case under wraps, including the name of the trooper and the youth who fired the weapon. The victim was Matt Anderson, 15, a freshman at Rock Falls High School.

Preliminary results of the investigation show that the shooting was an accident, said Monique Bond, the state police spokeswoman. It happened shortly before noon Saturday, and almost immediately police reported it was an accident.

"The two juveniles who are friends happened to be at the residence of the trooper," Bond said in a telephone interview. "The other individual is a juvenile. His name isn't being released. Nor do we release the names of troopers when there is an investigation. That information will be made public. These circumstances are different because it involves juveniles."

It took more than 2 days for state police to confirm the town where the incident happened – in a rural area near Rock Falls. Before that, they would say only that it was in District 1 of the state police, which covers Whiteside, Lee, Carroll and Ogle counties.

"We will not be giving the [exact] location for safety reasons," Bond said. "This involves the residence of a trooper. That will never come out."

She declined to say when the investigation would be finished.

"You don't put a timeframe on an investigation," Bond said. "This has gone up the chain of command. The chain of command is aware. This is an unthinkable tragedy."

She wouldn't say what type of weapon was used or whether it was owned by state police, facts that the investigation will determine.

The trooper works for state police's District 15, which handles all of Illinois' tollways. He was on duty at the time of the shooting and not at his house, Bond said.

Before attending Rock Falls High, Anderson was a student at East Coloma School. He played on the school's undefeated freshman football team and was a shooting guard for the basketball team.

He also was a member of the 2011 and 2013 Rock Falls Little League state champion teams.

"Whatever sport he was playing, Matt never complained, gave his all, and had a true love for the game," reads his obituary, which will be published in Wednesday's editions.

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