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Palatine police defend efforts to find slaying witnesses
By Dan Rozek | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:00 PM

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Originally published Jan. 15, 1993

Six days after savage mass murders shocked the community, Palatine police found themselves defending the speed and effectiveness of their door-to-door searches to uncover potential witnesses.

Police were told Thursday that at least one resident who lived near the murder site heard what sounded like gunshots the night the killings occurred. And some business owners and merchants whose shops are near the restaurant have criticized police for not interviewing them about the killings.

But neighbors with information about the killings at Brown's Chicken & Pasta should have contacted police, rather than wait for investigators to contact them, Palatine Deputy Police Chief Walt Gasior said.

"I certainly hope someone isn't waiting for an invitation to give us information," Gasior said.

Zoltan Berla, 41, told reporters Wednesday he had not been contacted by police after the killings, even though he lives in an apartment about 150 yards from the restaurant and heard what sounded like gunshots that night.

Gasior, during a news conference Thursday, brushed aside the criticism, saying anyone who might have information that could help investigators solve the largest suburban mass murder in decades has a civic obligation to notify police.

"It's hard for me to believe someone would have information about gunshots and would not contact the police department," Gasior said, saying police must work in a "cooperative effort" with residents to solve the crime.

Police conducted preliminary canvasses of the neighborhood around the restaurant last Saturday and Sunday, but Gasior acknowledged officers may have missed interviewing some people who live or work in the area.