Mail carrier recovering as Elk Grove Village man charged in New Year's Eve shooting
An Elk Grove Village man armed with a handgun tapped on the window of a postal worker's van and asked, "What's up, man?" before firing at least three shots that critically injured the carrier Monday, federal authorities alleged in court documents Wednesday.
Cameron Ruebusch, 24, of the 200 block of West Brantwood Avenue, faces a charge of assaulting a federal employee with a weapon in connection with the New Year's Eve shooting of 36-year-old mail carrier Stephen Casazza Jr. of Arlington Heights in a residential Elk Grove neighborhood.
Ruebusch could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison if convicted.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Wednesday, Casazza told investigators he parked in front of Ruebusch's house about 6 p.m. Monday to deliver mail to houses on the block. When Casazza returned a short time later, he said a man later identified as Ruebusch began tapping on the front passenger's-side window of his unmarked postal service van, holding a small handgun, the complaint said.
As Casazza drove away, he said he heard a gunshot, then felt a warm and wet feeling in his right shoulder. He realized he had been shot.
Casazza, who was shot in the back, chest and forearm, pulled over and was aided by residents who heard his pleas for help. He was rushed to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he underwent four hours of surgery to treat the gunshot wounds, receiving some 40 units of blood in the process, according to his father, Stephen Casazza Sr.
Casazza Jr. is now conscious, talking and breathing on his own, having had a breathing tube removed on New Year's Day, but he faces a lengthy recovery, his dad said.
Two hours after the shooting, a Ruebusch family member told authorities still at the scene that Ruebusch might have been involved, according to the complaint.
It "sounds like something (he) would do," the complaint quotes the family member saying.
Investigators with the United States Postal Inspection Service and Elk Grove Village Police Department later interviewed someone who witnessed the shooting after driving with Ruebusch to the Elk Grove house on New Year's Eve.
The person, identified only as Individual D in the criminal complaint, said once they arrived at the house, Ruebusch got out of the car, approached the unmarked minivan parked in front and yelled at the driver. The witness told investigators Ruebusch fired three shots from a 9-millmeter handgun, went inside the house for a short time, then came back and asked to be driven to his mother's apartment complex on Wellington Avenue.
He left the car for a few minutes, then returned, after which they drove to Individual D's residence, the complaint said.
Another person interviewed by police said Ruebusch called shortly after the shooting to say he was in trouble and needed to get rid of a gun, the complaint said. The person said Ruebusch temporarily hid the gun in wood chips outside the apartment complex and later appeared to dispose of it within a plastic grocery bag at Busse Woods, though authorities were unable to find the weapon there, the complaint states.
Investigators later talked to another individual who said Ruebusch admitted to firing four shots at the person in the minivan but didn't think the driver was a mail carrier, the complaint said.
Police took Ruebusch into custody about 1 a.m. Wednesday near Schick Road and Bell Drive in Hanover Park, where he was staying with two of the people interviewed. He requested an attorney and didn't speak to authorities, the complaint states.
Ruebusch was charged with assault in March 2017 and July 2017 and manufacturing/delivery of cannabis in May 2017, according to the Cook County sheriff's police, ABC 7 Chicago reported.