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Four dead and seven wounded; residents rattled

Authorities are set to give an update at 11:30 a.m. on a stabbing rampage that killed four and wounded seven others Wednesday afternoon in Rockford.

Officials from Rockford and Winnebago County said they have a 22-year-old man in custody, believed to be the sole suspect in the slayings, which unfolded in the area around Holmes Street, Cleveland Avenue and Eggleston Road around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. Authorities had not determined a motive.

Those killed include a 15-year-old girl, a 63-year-old woman and two men, ages 22 and 49, police said in a news release late Wednesday evening. Their identities weren’t immediately released.

Of the wounded, one was listed in critical condition while the others were stable, Rockford police Chief Carla Redd told reporters Wednesday. At least one of the victims’ injuries was neither stabbing nor gunshot-related, she said.

Residents in the area on Wednesday night feared for the lives of their neighbors and mourned the neighborhood’s popular mailman, whom they believed was killed in the attack. Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd confirmed that a mail carrier had been involved in the massacre and the U.S. Postal Service had a representative at the scene Wednesday evening.

Tracy Smith spent much of the night poring over video footage from her home doorbell system, her dog pacing at her feet. She played back a snippet of tape from 12:55 p.m. over and over, watching a figure cross the screen.

“Yep, that’s him,” she said.

Smith, 56, has lived near the intersection of Cleveland and Holmes since the late 1990s and said the mailman had worked the block for years. He would smile and wave at the front door even if he couldn’t see someone in the home, she said.

Rockford Ald. Mark Bonne, 14th observed that residents of the area would be likely to know their mail carrier well: “This neighborhood still has door-side mailboxes so the mail carrier walks the route and is on your doorstep every day.”

The City of Rockford announced via its social media that a vigil honoring the victims would take place at the intersection of Charles Street and Eggleston Road at 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Tom McNamara announced that Flinn Middle School, 2525 Ohio Parkway, would be open for those seeking counseling and support between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Check back for updates. 

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