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Teen held, but on old charges
By Deedra Lawhead | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:58 PM

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Originally published Jan. 16, 1993

A task force investigating last weekend's savage Palatine murders swooped down Friday on a former Fremd High School student, but his arrest may not have any connection to those slayings, several sources said late Friday. In all, six people were rounded up at a Schaumburg apartment complex, but only one was taken into custody, and he was held on old charges.

Acting on tips from two informants, police converged on a northwest Schaumburg apartment complex and arrested 17-year-old Rashaad S. Brooks, 1326 E. Algonquin Road, on two outstanding warrants, including one stemming from a November robbery of a women's clothing store in Rolling Meadows.

While sources close to the investigation said police were ruling out any link between the killings and Brooks, they also said he was being questioned in connection with the Nov. 16 armed robbery of the Purple Martin Mini-Mart in Addison.

Two men robbed that all-night gas station and shot assistant station manager Patti Lacefield six times with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

For a couple of hours Friday, however, media members were reporting a possible break in the investigation of the brutal Jan. 8 murders of seven people at Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant in Palatine. But for the second time this week, police had to release people detained by the task force for questioning.

"This isn't going anywhere," said one source, referring to any link between Brooks and the Palatine murders.

On Monday, 23-year-old Elgin resident Martin Blake - a former Brown's employee -was released after two days of questioning.

Palatine police, meanwhile, have been investigating a number of armed robberies in the suburbs that bear similarities to the mass murders in Palatine. But the guns used in the Palatine killings are believed to have been .38-caliber weapons, not the .45-caliber semiautomatic used in the Addison shooting.

Brooks was arrested Friday at the Walden Apartments on a Rolling Meadows warrant for the Nov. 23 robbery at Fashion 77, at 2212 Algonquin Road. In that case, a male and female entered the store about 1:30 p m and robbed it of about $90, Rolling Meadows police said.

Neither of the robbers displayed a weapon although they hinted they had one, police said. A third person is believed to have been driving a getaway car. A warrant for Brooks' arrest was issued Dec. 29 and carries a $60,000 bond.

Brooks also was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Palatine for failing to appear in court on charges of aggravated assault and resisting a police officer.

Friday afternoon at their daily task force press conference, law enforcement officials were tight-lipped regarding Brooks, the five others questioned and the mass murders.

"I'm not foolish enough to try to deny that this task force is questioning persons," said Andy Knott, spokesman for the Cook County Slate's Attorney's office.

"They have been questioning persons since early this week. Again, it would be inappropriate to talk about that."

But friends of Brooks said they were playing cards with Brooks and at least two other men questioned Friday - Steve Brown and Robert Starling, both 26 - when the Palatine murders look place last week. Brown, Starling and Brooks are roommates. "I believe they had nothing to do with this (the murders)," said Nikki Buster, 15, a neighbor. "I know them really well."

Brooks, a former Fremd High School student known as "Dee," also was said to have been expelled from high school and worked for a hotel. "He was the kind of guy you wanted on your side because he was capable of doing something nasty," said Ryan Macintosh, 16, who knows Brooks and attends Fremd. "He had a low tolerance, but I don't think he could kill somebody."

Brown said he fears that police, desperate to identify the killers, will mistakenly arrest him for the slayings. "I'm scared," he said.

Contributing to this report were Daily Herald Staff Writers Sandra Del Re, Catherine Edman, Dave McKinney and Bill O'Brien.