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Police investigate revenge factor
By Daniel Curry and Steve Warmbir | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:07 PM

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Originally published Jan. 10, 1993

Martin E. Blake, held for questioning in the massacre at Brown's Chicken & Pasta in Palatine, had vowed revenge after being fired recently as a cook in the restaurant, police sources say.

Blake was fired about a week ago after a confrontation with one of the owners, according to an employee who asked not to be identified.

The employee said Blake had walked off the job without permission one night; later, when one of the owners confronted him about it, Blake blew up and was fired on the spot, according to the worker.

Since then, Blake openly complained about his treatment at Brown's and vowed to get even with his bosses, several sources say.

More than a dozen police took Blake into custody about 3 p.m. Saturday in the driveway of his Elgin house. The former Inverness resident was looking under the hood of his car, then turned to walk to his garage when a team of police officers approached with their guns drawn, said Mark Gomoll, a neighbor.

"The police were saying, 'Freeze' Freeze! Freeze!' They were screaming it," Gomoll said.

Blake offered no resistance, two neighbors said. Elgin police refused to comment. Blake was driven to Palatine and was being questioned by authorities late Saturday.

At a Saturday night news conference, Palatine police refused to answer questions about Blake. But police sources said he is the only suspect in the slayings of seven Brown's employees whose bodies were discovered in the restaurant early Saturday morning.

However, they cautioned against jumping to conclusions and noted that no charges have been filed.

"We're not sure what direction it's going to take," one police source said.

Neighbors and acquaintances said Blake jumped from job to job after his 1987 graduation from Fremd High School in Palatine.

"Martin hadn't found himself," said Thomas Hall, who lives near Blake's family home in Inverness.

Many acquaintances described Blake as easygoing but said he likes to mix with a rowdy crowd. He frequently hosted parties in Elgin, according to neighbors.

"I would be surprised if he were involved in this," said Mark Callos of Elgin, who rented a room at Blake's house last summer. "Now, some of his friends, that would be a different story. They were rowdy, young, reckless and stupid."

Callos said Blake bought the Elgin house about a year ago with money he said he gained from an insurance settlement.

"I would describe him as nonviolent, nonaggressive," Callos said.

Before he went to work at Brown's, he worked for a time at Rally's, a hamburger restaurant in Elgin, Callos said. Employees at Rally's declined to comment about him.

Blake started work at Brown's about six weeks ago, according to co-worker Jason Georgi. He worked mostly evenings and was a cook.

"He was a real quiet guy, I didn't talk to him much other than to say hello," Georgi said.

Daily Herald staff writers Sandra Del Re and Alex Rodriguez contributed to this report.