State

Authorities ran quiet investigation in search for California shooting suspect

Kane sheriff: Public notification would have jeopardized effort to catch Sypien

ST. CHARLES – California police put out a national bulletin last week informing law enforcement that Mark A. Sypien, 51, was wanted in connection with a homicide, on the run and had ties to northern Illinois.

Sheriffs in both Kane and DeKalb counties said their departments, along with local police departments, were aware of the possibility that an armed and dangerous fugitive could return to the area. They had his mug shot, a description of his vehicle and its Illinois license plate number. Although some people who police thought might be in danger were notified, police did not share the information with the public.

Officials said they had no reliable information to suggest that Sypien, who had an active arrest warrant in DeKalb County, was headed that way. Sypien arrived at the home where his parents live in rural St. Charles about 3 p.m. Wednesday and fatally shot himself, authorities have said. He was driving the same silver 2003 Ford Escape that he used to flee the scene of the homicide in California, according to reports.

“If we started broadcasting who we were looking for, it could have jeopardized the investigation,” Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said. “We would not do a press release on an active investigation.”

Sypien is the prime suspect in the shooting death of John Moore, 76, of Danville, California. Moore was the father of one of Sypien’s ex-girlfriends. Another woman who had a years-long romantic relationship with Sypien described him as a “volatile sociopath.” Kane and DeKalb County court records show a long history of domestic abuse charges, and Sypien spent 60 days in the DeKalb County Jail in 2017 for violating an order of protection of a domestic violence victim.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office notified St. Charles and Elburn police – because he had ties to the Elburn area – and the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, Hain said.

“We canvassed the area … and notified anyone who might be in harm directly, and set up a nationwide interdiction network between California and Illinois to try to catch him,” Hain said.

In DeKalb County, Sheriff Roger Scott said officers were looking for Sypien, but he said there was no indication he might be returning to the area.

“There was nothing that was specific that he was headed to Illinois,” Scott said. “It was just follow-up work on our part to try to be aware.”

In California, Danville Police Lt. Douglas Muse said they did not have information that Sypien was traveling across the country to Illinois but notified area law enforcement to be safe.

“That is an important distinction,” Muse said. “Public safety in California and Illinois is paramount in our thought process. … We had nothing on our end that he was going to Illinois. It was something we thought was a possibility.”

Police have said Sypien shot himself about 3 p.m. Wednesday on his parents’ front lawn in rural St. Charles, and he later died at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

Muse said his department did not know Sypien was in Illinois until they were notified that he’d shot himself.

“Our homicide detectives were surrounding a place they thought he was at when we got the phone call,” Muse said.

“I do think your agencies out there were very proactive and very communicative,” Muse said. “Your agencies out there were extremely helpful and prepared for the remote possibility that something would occur. … From our standpoint, we are relieved there is no further loss of life and no one else was injured, and with minimal impact to others.”

• Reporter Katie Finlon contributed to this story.

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