LOVELAND, Colo. — The overnight killing of a man on a sidewalk in this northern Colorado city has raised alarm that a serial shooter might be trolling the area’s roads after a bicyclist recently was gunned down and a driver was wounded nearby.
Police and the FBI have refused to comment on whether a serial shooter is on the loose. But they offered a $10,000 reward for information in the first two unsolved shootings, which authorities say are related — though they haven’t said how.
In one, a bicyclist was found dead along a rural road. In the other, a woman driving on Interstate 25 was shot in the neck but survived. All three shootings happened within 15 miles of each other.
Officials say it’s too early to know if the latest one, in Loveland, is connected.
In that case, a 65-year-old man was found lying on a sidewalk along a main street Wednesday night, and responders were unable to save his life. Police have not released his name, but family and neighbors identified him as William Connole, a cancer survivor who often took late-night walks through his quiet neighborhood.
Sadie Rogers, 15, said her grandfather worked for years in the computer industry before taking a job at Home Depot. She said the nighttime walks helped him sleep after work. Even when he had cancer, Connole would come to her softball games, she said.
“He just did everything for everyone he could,” Rogers said.
Neighbor Russell Harmon said it seems like the shootings could be linked.
“I’ve got two children and a wife, and I don’t want to be outside playing with my kids, you know, they’re riding bikes or something down the sidewalk and somebody come by and shoot me or them,” he said.
Police said Thursday detectives are consulting with members of a task force to see if the latest shooting is tied to the other two.
“Right now, it’s still early,” Loveland police Sgt. Mike Halloran said. “We don’t have enough information to show there is a link, and we don’t have enough information to show there isn’t a link.”
Halloran said the agency thought it was prudent to involve the task force to share information because shootings are rare in Loveland, a city of about 70,000 roughly 50 miles north of Denver.
Police in nearby Windsor last week announced the earlier two shootings were linked, but they declined to say how they determined that. The bicyclist killing happened in Windsor, while the I-25 shooting occurred about 5 miles away. Authorities have said those two victims did not know each other.
Windsor Police Chief John Michaels said his department, area law enforcement and the FBI have been collaborating on the cases.
On Thursday, Windsor police Lt. Rick Klimek said tips are pouring in about the cyclist shooting but so far have led to no substantial leads.
“They’re all going into a database to see what, if anything, fits together,” he said. The tips have included everything from years-old shootings to suspicious vehicles. Investigators check each one.
“People are just hypersensitive now to their surroundings,” Klimek said.
Adding to community concerns, drivers in northern Colorado have reported a string of broken vehicle windows since the I-25 shooting. Investigators so far have found no proof of gunshots in those cases.
If the cases are the work of a serial shooter, he or she likely has no connection to the victims or any particular target, said Eric Hickey, dean of the California School of Forensic Studies who has studied serial killers. The victims are “proxies for his anger and whatever he’s angry about,” he said, speaking generally.
“He’ll make mistakes,” Hickey said “They always do.”