More than a week after the shootings, River Forest police remain silent on dual investigations of the July 12 deaths of Matt Watson, 24, and William Carlson, 60, in the 100 block of Lathrop Avenue.

Two police officers also were injured in the early Sunday morning incident, and Watson’s mother, Susan Watson, 59, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center with gunshot and other wounds. 

Matthew Watson was killed by police as he fired a shotgun at officers in front of his home. At the scene later that day, River Forest Deputy Police Chief James O’Shea referred to the incident as an “ambush.”

The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the death of Watson. The state police task force is requested by local police departments or the state’s attorney to investigate serious incidents involving police officers, said state police spokesman Master Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle. 

The death of William Carlson is being investigated by the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force (WESTAF). WESTAF is a collaborative homicide task force made up of detectives and forensic officers from 22 different west Cook County municipalities. 

“Every town delegates one to three officers to the unit so the local police department doesn’t have all its detectives tied up with one case,” said Dora Murphy, executive assistant to Forest Park Police Chief Tom Aftanas. 

Neighbors identified Carlson as the boyfriend or husband of Susan Watson, but that was not confirmed by River Forest police. Friends, asking for anonymity, said Carlson and Susan Watson were visiting Matthew from their home in Wisconsin. The Cook County Medical Examiner gave Carlson’s address as the house on Lathrop Avenue. The medical examiner determined Carlson was killed by shotgun wounds to the chest at close range.

A spokeswoman for Loyola University Medical Center confirmed that Susan Watson is still hospitalized and that her condition is “stable.”

A 15-year veteran River Forest officer was hit by flak from Watson’s shotgun and sustained injuries to his abdomen. A bullet-proof vest protected him, O’Shea said. A five-year veteran officer was also taken to a hospital with unspecified wounds.

Meanwhile, River Forest residents rallied around officers injured in the shooting. Residents Gigi Hoke, Kirstin Gloor, Susan Lucci and Liz Ziehl collected over 50 “thank you” and “get well” cards — many created by children. The cards were delivered Monday to the River Forest Police Department.

“[The River Forest Police] were so grateful for the cards,” said Gloor. “They said they would display them in the department. The children wrote sweet things like “thank you for protecting us and risking your lives.'” 

“We want our police to know we appreciate them in good times and hard times,” Gloor added.

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Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...