Police arrest alleged shooter in Statehouse slaying

Police arrest alleged shooter in Statehouse slaying

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Matt Adrian

 SPRINGFIELD — Police arrested the prime suspect this morning in Monday's fatal shooting of a statehouse security guard.

At 7:04 a.m., Springfield police officers arrested Derek W. Potts, 24, a former Olney resident, without incident in the 300 block of west Ash Street. Potts is wanted in the shooting death of security guard William Peter Wozniak

Potts was reported going from door-to-door asking people for a ride, said Springfield Police Chief Donald Kliment. The authorities are still searching for a motive for the slaying or a possible connection between Potts and Wozniak, he said.

Sangamon County States Attorney John Schmidt said he will charge Potts with first-degree murder, burglary, aggravated discharge of a firearm and violation of the state's Firearm Owners Identification Card permit laws.

The state wants to hold Potts on $20 million bond. The alleged shooter will be appearing in court at 3 p.m. today.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Potts could face 45 years to life in prison, Schmidt said. The state's attorney's office has not yet decided if it will seek the death penalty. Illinois has a moratorium on the death penalty but prosecutors can still seek the punishment.

"This case is simply too new," Schmidt said. "Reports are still flowing in. We are reviewing the facts. We are reviewing the law and we will make that decision."

At 1:30 p.m. Monday, a shooter parked in the circle drive on the Capitol's north entrance, entered the statehouse and shot the guard in the chest with a rifle or shotgun. The shooter put the gun in the trunk and drove down East Monroe Street.

Wozniak, 51, died at St. John's Hospital Monday afternoon. The Petersburg man had worked as a Secretary of State security guard since March 1986.The security guard is survived by his wife Sheila, a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter.

Law enforcement suspects the shooter may have attempted to steal a 12-gauge shotgun from Birds 'N Brooks Army Navy Surplus on South 6th Street, one hour before the Statehouse killing.

The store owner identified Monday's robber as the same man who stole a 12-gauge shotgun last week, Burton reported.

Lt. Doug Williamson of the Springfield Police Department confirmed that the shotgun found in Potts' apartment was the one stolen from the surplus store.

Matt Adrian can be reached at matt.adrian@lee.net or (217) 789-0865.

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