Rockford Sees String of Violent Crimes

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Two people are dead, two others are fighting to survive after a violent four days here in Rockford.

The string of violence continued late last night as police returned to the same area as Thursday’s murder investigating another stabbing. This one was in the 1100 block of South Main Street. Investigators say 23-year-old Enrique Romero was badly slashed in the neck. He’s in stable, but critical condition.

It’s the only case where officers have made an arrest. Penado Hernandes Santiago is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

Less than 24 hours earlier, two people were shot and one of them was killed. Investigators say a gathering in a parking lot in the 1000 block of 9th Street got out of hand. Witnesses say they heard more than half a dozen gunshots ring out. 24-year-old Anthony Smiley was killed and 25-year-old Anthony Riggs is still fighting for his life. The shooting happened in the newly formed geo-policing pilot district. Although it has a separate detective bureau from the rest of the police department, they’re working together to solve the case.

“It’s a very significant and tragic incident and so we want to work together as a team as the whole city to bring resolution to the case.”

Officers in the Violent Crimes unit are still looking for the person involved in the first murder, which kicked of the string of violence Thursday morning. Police say 29-year-old Nicholas Vitali was stabbed to death at the corner of Kent and Ferguson, just feet from St. Anthony Catholic Church.

Police say the string of violence in our community so early in the year is concerning but not unusual.

“It’s just driven by circumstance. It’s very unpredictable when these incidents are going to happen.”

Assistant Deputy Chief Pann says the Department will analyze each violent crime on a case by case basis when deciding if the pilot district will investigate on its own, or will get help from detectives in the violent crime and gang units.

The violent crime unit is not getting help from District 2 on Vitali’s murder. Pann says there may be crimes that District 2 assists the rest of the department.

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