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Charges announced in Illinois stabbing attack that left 4 dead and 7 wounded

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Authorities have announced charges against a 22-year-old Winnebago County man in connection with a stabbing rampage that killed four and wounded seven others Wednesday afternoon in Rockford.

Christian Soto was charged, Rockford officials said at a Thursday press briefing. Soto faces 11 charges of murder and attempted murder and two charges of home invasion with a dangerous weapon, according to Winnebago County Sheriff records.

Court records show Soto lives about a block from where he allegedly attacked 11 people, killing four, including a mail carrier, in a southeast Rockford neighborhood.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara identified the dead as Romona Schupbach, 63, Jacob Schupbach, 23, Jay Larson, 49, and Jenna Newcomb, 15.

Early Thursday, Craig Garr stood in his driveway in that neighborhood and watched a tow service load his Jeep Grand Cherokee onto the bed of a truck.

Blood still splattered his driveway. It was on his door frame, on his yard decorations and especially on two rocks that were usually by his front door but on Thursday were lying near a set of deep tire tracks on his front lawn.

He is 74 and has lived on Winnetka Drive for 45 years. Garr’s mail came early Wednesday afternoon. It was two pieces. Just after the letters came through the slot, Garr said he was in his computer room and heard “a commotion, like a garbage truck.”

“I looked out my window and I saw a guy hovering by my window. And then I saw the mail guy down there and he was just beating the (expletive) out of him,” he said. “And I said, ‘What are you doing?’ And the guy said, ‘He stole money from me.'”

Then the letter carrier, Larson, rolled over. He recognized Garr. “He said, ‘Call 911.'”

Garr said the man beating up the mailman saw he had the phone in his hand and made for the front door. Garr shut and bolted the door “so he couldn’t get in the house.”

From his window, Garr said he saw the man continue to attack the mailman before getting in a black truck.

“He floored it, like down to the ground, and ran over the mailman,” Garr said. “Smashed my car. Then he put it in reverse and backed over the mailman in my yard.”

He did not sleep Wednesday night.

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.

The man could be in court later today, according to records, though charges have yet to be formally announced.

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.

Two Rockford police cars were parked near the intersection of Upland Drive and Holmes on Thursday morning, while another sat in the driveway beside the blue home that appeared to be the center of the crime scene. A strip of yellow tape was the only other immediate indication that there had been police activity on the block.

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 Alderman Mark Bonne 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 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.

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