By Lauren DiSpirito
LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators on Tuesday released two new videos showing suspect vehicles in connection with unsolved random shootings in Northern Colorado, renewing their plea for the public’s help in solving the cases.
After fielding more than 5,100 tips, interviewing 100 people and clearing 12 “persons of interest” in the cases, investigators said they need additional information to identify suspects in the crimes.
In a news conference at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, members of the Northern Colorado Shootings Task Force, a law enforcement group formed to investigate three apparently random and deliberate shootings that killed two men and injured one woman last year, gave their first public update on the cases since September. Since forming the task force, investigators became aware of three additional shootings. In all six cases, no arrests have been made.
The series of random attacks began on April 22, 2015, when Cori Romero, 20, was shot in the neck inside her vehicle as she was driving eastbound on Harmony Road and entering the on ramp for Interstate 25 South in Fort Collins. It was shortly after 11 p.m. Romero was treated for injuries at the Medical Center of the Rockies and underwent surgery. The now 21-year-old survived her injuries.
A second random attack happened nearly one month later, on May 18, around 10:15 p.m. John Jacoby, 47, was riding his bike on Weld County Road 15 north of Windsor when he was shot twice and died at the scene. Jacoby was well-known to people in Windsor, where he lived and worked, and frequented community events. Investigators say both Romero and Jacoby were shot by an unknown assailant. Their shootings are linked by forensic evidence, though investigators are not specifying what that evidence is.
The third shooting under the task force’s investigation happened on June 3 in Loveland. A man on a motorcycle told police he was shot at while riding through the intersection of Denver Drive and East 18th Street. The man was not hurt, and did not initially report the incident to police. Later that same night and about two miles away, William Connole, 65, was shot from behind while walking near his home on East 1st Street near St. Louis Avenue. Connole died of his injuries.
Investigators said Tuesday they believe Connole’s shooting death and the third shooting are linked, but are not linked to either the first or second shootings under investigation.
One of two surveillance clips shows what investigators think is a 1973-1987 model year pickup truck that may have been involved in the Loveland shootings. A second clip shows a red Mini Cooper vehicle that law enforcement believe is connected to the fifth and sixth shootings, one at a Banner Health facility and other at an elementary school in which no one was hurt and the shooter appeared to have targeted buildings.
While investigators say shootings five and six are related to each other, they don’t believe those incidents are related to any of the first four shootings. They are asking for information about both of the suspect vehicles.
The renewed plea for tips comes as members of the news media have posed additional questions to the task force, said group spokesman David Moore. Investigators think some people make be sitting on information, thinking it’s unimportant, or afraid to talk with them.
“Please do not assume that the information you have has already been reported to the task force,” Moore said. “If you have information, please report it immediately.”
Moore reviewed maps showing the suspect vehicles’ direction of travel and reviewed timelines in each of the cases.
“These are very difficult and complex cases and it takes a lot of man hours to digest and process all the data,” said task force member Cpt. Bob Coleman of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
Following the update from investigators, William Connole’s sister, Mary Connole, told CBS4’s Lauren DiSpirito she hopes the news conference generates renewed interest in the cases and encourages people to come forward with new tips.
“I want people to know it’s an unsolved murder and to not forget that work is being done on it and to stay vigilant, and keep aware, and to report if anything comes to mind,” Connole said. “All those little odd ball tips help.”
Connole says the task force is wise to not reveal too much information.
“I know there is a lot of information they can’t release and that’s okay, they’re doing their job,” Connole said. “I’m satisfied that they are being so detailed about this, that once they get this guy, bang, he’s gone; that there will be no question that this is the person and he will be behind bars.
Connole, who went by Bill, is survived by three children and five grandchildren. After graduating high school from the Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland in 1969, he moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Colorado to attend Regis University and compete as a collegiate swimmer. He was known for his sense of humor, sometimes teasing manner, and his intelligence.
In the weeks before his death, Connole says Bill had been working at a Home Depot and making progress in his battle with cancer, starting to work on his truck and make jokes again. He’d spent 30 years living in the Loveland neighborhood where he was gunned down during an evening stroll, something his sister says he did to think, get exercise, and solve problems.
“He loved the meditative quality of it, and as far as I know he was just out for a walk like he did so often. It was nothing unusual.” Connole said, later adding, “It was a theft, it was a violent theft. You can’t wrap your mind around it.”
Despite the passage of time, Connole remains hopeful Bill’s killer will be caught. Connole has found comfort in talks with friends, and members of the Jacoby family, who’ve checked in on her over the last few months. Members of Bill’s 1969 graduating class at Georgetown Prep have taken to fundraising to pay for his grandchildren’s educations. She says she has stopped asking herself why it happened, but is still figuring out how to heal.
“I want this bad guy in jail so he doesn’t do it again. That’s not going to bring closure to losing by brother, nothing will.”
Additional Information From The Task Force
Authorities would like anyone with any information to call the Task Force Tip Line at 970.498.5595 or via email. If you see this vehicle moving and/or occupied, please immediately call 911 so local law enforcement can respond and follow all the directions of the emergency dispatcher. If you can do so safely, please gather as much information about the vehicle to include license plate state and number, distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle, description of the occupant(s), and/or a photograph.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for any of these crimes.