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Deaths alter suburbs' sense of safety
By Laura Janota | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:16 PM

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Originally published Jan. 10, 1993

The slaughter of seven people Saturday in Palatine probably burst forever the fragile bubble of insulation and any sense of security that residents all over the Northwest suburbs have long held.

Suburban residents throughout the Chicago area will be forced to face at least one cold fact today as a result of the tragedy: No place is immune to violence - not city, not suburb, not even rural America.

Even former Palatine resident Anton Valukas, onetime U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was stunned as details of the tragedy unfolded.

"When I remember Palatine, I would never think of it in terms of violent crime. I would never think it was a place where this could happen," said Valukas, who graduated from Palatine High School.

But with Chicago in 1992 recording its second-highest murder rate ever, many believe the violence is merely part of a national pattern that's bound to be repeated.

"Unfortunately, it's a totally different world now in Palatine and all over," said Valukas, who was appointed by Gov. Edgar last year to head a task force on Illinois' prison system.

The trauma facing Palatine also was felt by Winnetka in 1988 when Laurie Dann walked into the Hubbard Woods grade school and began shooting children. The strength of the shock waves felt there likely will be repeated in Palatine, one police official said.

"People were absolutely stunned, shocked and frightened, and it wasn't just Winnetka, it was the entire North Shore," recalled former Winnetka Police Chief Herbert Timm, in charge of the Dann investigation. "That's what the Palatine area must be going through now and it will hurt for a long time."

"I'm not sure there's an answer for the magnitude of what occurred. I'm not even sure there are any answers at all," said Gary Del Re, a Buffalo Grove police commander in charge of Lake County's Major Crime Task Force. Ray Rose, the five-year police chief of suburban Mundelein, remembers the shock and fear that stormed the community of Elk Grove Village in 1976 when Patty Columbo and a lover brutally murdered Columbo's parents and her brother. Rose was an investigator assigned to the sensational case. Saturday, Rose said, the Northwest suburbs had returned to the type of shock he remembered during the Columbo aftermath.

"Everywhere I've been today people are talking about it," he said.