UNION GROVE — Authorities say the shooting at a racetrack that killed three Illinois men appears to have been gang-related. The Kenosha County sheriff said a lack of cooperation has stymied the investigation into Sunday night's triple shooting at Great Lakes Dragaway. The gunman remains at large, and FOX6 News has learned the families of the deceased have reached out to attorneys in Wisconsin.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth used the word "assassination" to describe this shooting. FOX6 News on Monday spoke with the vendor who said the shooting happened at his stand -- during Larry's Fun Fest, previously known as "Black Sunday."
"People come from all over for this event. A lot of them. So disappointed -- you come here and something like that happens," Selton Nix said.
Nix came to the dragaway Monday to pick up his vehicle, which wouldn't start when the facility was evacuated Sunday. He said his girlfriend lost track of her son during the panic.
"He tells me three people got shot, and I'm like, 'what do you mean three people got shot?'" Nix said.
Willie Coleman said his business became a crime scene Sunday night.
"The three young men, they walked up to the booth to order some food and there was a line of people," Coleman said, "All of a sudden, during the same time, somebody walked up to them and just started shooting."
Coleman said he heard at least a dozen shots. Authorities said it was an execution.
"Basically just shot them point blank -- so he knew what he targets were," Sheriff Beth said. "He shot two of them. The third one ran around to the side of the tent. He shot him and then he came back up and fired a few more shots into the two that were laying there."
The three were fatally shot about 7:00 p.m. Sunday, according to Kenosha County sheriff's officials.
Sheriff Beth said investigators remained at the crime scene until around 4:00 a.m. Monday. Beth said police in the Chicagoland area have told him each of the three victims were known gang members. He said he does not know for certain if the shooting was gang-related but a release from his office said "indications/circumstances" make investigators think it was.
"I don't know if this was retaliation," Sheriff Beth said.
The victims were identified Monday as 30-year-old David Watson of Oswego, IL, 30-year-old Khalid Howard of Aurora, IL, and 26-year-old Derek Edwards of North Aurora, IL.
Beth said the shooter remains at large. He said lack of cooperation from victims' family members who have shown up on the scene hasn't made investigators' work any easier.
"Some family members have shown up and we found that, at least the family members I'm aware of, were not cooperative at all," Beth said.
Beth said he's been informed the father of one of the victims is a "high-ranking member of a gang in Illinois."
Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Malecki said the victims were from the Aurora area in Illinois.
"The victims were known gang members," Malecki said, adding that deputies were investigating the possibility that the assailant was a rival gang member.
Meanwhile, FOX6 News has learned the victims' families have reached out to Attorney Walter Stern and his investigator, who have recently taken on high-profile cases in Milwaukee. We're told they're concerned about security procedures at the dragaway.
FOX6 News reached out to Great Lakes Dragaway for comment on their security procedures, and Sunday night's shooting. We're awaiting their response.
Coleman said the shooter had no expression as he fired the shots.
"'Pow, pow, pow.' Then he turned around and shot the guys on the ground. He came back -- 'pow, pow, pow'and he took off and ran across the field," Coleman said.
Two of the men died at the scene and the third died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.
Beth urged any witnesses to the shooting to contact his department.
"A lot of people may not have wanted to come up and talk to the sheriff's department initially because maybe they were afraid someone was going to see them," Beth said, "So what I'm hoping happens is someone who knows what's going on or saw what happened will call us, give us more information and help us catch the individual who did this."
Sheriff Beth said the suspect being sought in this instance is described as a male, black, 20 to 30 years old, about 5'9" tall with an athletic build. The sheriff described the suspect's hair as shaved on the sides with a scruffy top.
The sheriff's office estimated about 15,000 people were at the raceway for an event known as "Larry's Fun Fest." The track's website shows the event included drag racing, tailgating, live entertainment and a car show.
Union Grove is about 25 miles south of Milwaukee.