Search on for gun, and motive, in shooting of postal worker

As they search Busse Woods, authorities seek motive, too

 
 
Updated 1/3/2019 8:01 PM
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  • A Cook County Forest Preserve District police vehicle blocks the entrance to Grove 32 in Busse Woods Thursday as investigators searched for the gun used in the Dec. 31 shooting of a mail carrier in Elk Grove Village.

      A Cook County Forest Preserve District police vehicle blocks the entrance to Grove 32 in Busse Woods Thursday as investigators searched for the gun used in the Dec. 31 shooting of a mail carrier in Elk Grove Village. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Elk Grove Village man charged in the Dec. 31 shooting of a mail carrier entered a waiting vehicle at the intersection of Pahl Road and Winston Drive after he possibly disposed of the gun nearby in Busse Woods, authorities said.

      The Elk Grove Village man charged in the Dec. 31 shooting of a mail carrier entered a waiting vehicle at the intersection of Pahl Road and Winston Drive after he possibly disposed of the gun nearby in Busse Woods, authorities said. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Cameron Ruebusch

    Cameron Ruebusch

  • Stephen Casazza Jr.

    Stephen Casazza Jr.

Investigators Thursday continued to search for the gun used in the New Year's Eve shooting of a mail carrier in Elk Grove Village.

The Ned Brown Forest Preserve, commonly known as Busse Woods, was one of the sites visited by authorities looking for the 9 mm handgun they say was used to shoot 36-year-old postal worker Stephen Casazza Jr. of Arlington Heights in a nearby Elk Grove Village neighborhood.

A Cook County Forest Preserve District police vehicle blocked the Beisner Road entrance to Busse Woods at times Thursday while investigators conducted their search.

The hunt for clues and a motive continues even after federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged 24-year-old Cameron Ruebusch, of the 200 block of West Brantwood Avenue, in the Dec. 31 shooting. If found guilty of assaulting a federal employee with a weapon, Ruebusch could face as much as 20 years in prison.

Authorities say Ruebusch, armed with a handgun, tapped on the window of Casazza's unmarked van around 6 p.m. Monday in front of Ruebusch's house and asked, "What's up, man?" Casazza put the van in drive and tried to get away, but Ruebusch fired at least three shots that critically injured the carrier, according to court documents.

"We're actively still working the investigation," said Julie Kenney, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Inspection Service, which is leading a joint investigation with Elk Grove Village police. "We're looking for evidence. We're not done. There's still searching."

Investigators were spotted Thursday morning on the south end of Busse Woods, where Ruebusch may have tried to dispose of the gun, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors.

A witness told investigators Ruebusch called shortly after the shooting to say he was in trouble and needed to get rid of a gun, the criminal complaint states.

The person, identified in court documents only as Individual C, picked up Ruebusch from a residence in Mount Prospect sometime after the shooting and, at Ruebusch's request, took him to his mother's apartment complex on Wellington Avenue in Elk Grove Village, the complaint states.

There, Ruebusch retrieved the gun he had buried earlier in wood chips near the complex, put it in a plastic grocery bag, then ran toward Busse Woods, Individual C told authorities, according to the complaint.

While the witness believed Ruebusch was disposing of the handgun in the woods, authorities initially were unable to find the weapon there, the complaint states.

Ruebusch told him to meet him near Grove 32 in the woods, but the car's driver waited for him just outside the forest preserve at Pahl Road and Winston Drive for about a half-hour, the complaint states.

The driver then took Ruebusch to a home in Hanover Park, where he was arrested early Wednesday morning.

Also Thursday, authorities visited Casazza Jr. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he continues to recover. They were there to photograph the three gunshot wounds sustained in the attack for the record, according to his father, Stephen Casazza Sr.

He said he doesn't know why his son was shot, though he suspects it may have been an attempted carjacking.

"I think most mail carriers worry about the dogs more than anything else," his dad said. "If you're in a nice neighborhood and safe, most people have respect for their mailman."

A status hearing for Ruebusch is set for Jan. 10, in advance of an eventual preliminary hearing in downtown Chicago federal court.

Search: 'Individual C' picked up suspect from woods, complaint says

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