Three suburban men shot dead Sunday night at a drag racing event in Wisconsin were victims of a targeted, gang-related attack, authorities said.
Khalid R. Howard, 30, of Aurora; Derek K. Edwards, 26, of North Aurora; and David L. Watson, 30, of Oswego died from gunshot wounds after an unidentified gunman opened fire on them at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said.
The gunman walked up to his victims at a concession tent and shot two of them, he said. The third ran around the side of the tent and the gunman followed, shooting again.
"And then he came back up and fired a few more shots into the two that were laying there," Beth said. "He had enough time and enough arrogance to go back and make sure that they were dead."
The violence was unprecedented at the raceway, and it came when an estimated 15,000 people attended an event called Larry's Fun Fest, which draws car lovers and their families.
"We've never even had so much as a fist fight, and one bad egg has to ruin it for them," Brian Mitchell, a manager at the dragaway, told the Kenosha News.
Beth said the gang connection seemed obvious.
"The reason I believe gangs were involved is because the three all belonged to a gang," he said. "And they all seemed to be quite well-known by gang officers in the areas that they come from."
He added that the father of one of the dead men "is a high-ranking member of a gang in Illinois."
Aurora police spokesman Dan Ferrelli confirmed all three victims "were well-known" to Aurora police.
"Wisconsin reached out to us in reference to their investigation," Ferrelli said. "We supplied the information they were seeking and pledged our assistance in any way we can. Other than that, we don't discuss investigations by outside agencies."
However, a check of Kane County court records turned up the names of the three men.
All had previous felony and misdemeanor arrests. Howard's record dates back to a 2005 weapons charge, for which he was given probation, which later was violated. Edwards was accused in 2011 of aggravated battery in a public place, mob action and possession of a controlled substance; he served 143 days in jail before pleading guilty to a reduced charge on the battery count.
Watson's only felony arrest came in 2016 for unlawful use of a weapon and obstruction of justice, according to Kane County court records. He was due in court on that case on Oct. 17, records show.
Beth said people claiming to be family members of the victims arrived at the racetrack late Sunday night but were not cooperative with authorities.
"That hasn't helped us," he said.
The suspect was described as a black man between 20 and 30 years old, standing about 5 feet, 9 inches with a thin, athletic build. His hair was shaved on the side, with a "scruffy" top, Beth said.
Beth said he believes "several dozen" people may have witnessed the attack and he has urged them to come forward.
The suspect fled the area after the shooting in a vehicle, though Beth said witnesses have only been able to describe it as "possibly a black vehicle."