An estranged husband shot and killed his wife and her boyfriend after midnight in East Peoria. Police are calling it domestic violence at its worst. Brian S. Sokolowski of Pennsylvania forced his way into the apartment and shot the couple before turning the gun on himself. The boyfriend remains in critical condition. The Sokolowski's two young boys were in the apartment at the time, as was the boyfriend's 16-year-old brother.
A Pennsylvania man fatally shot his estranged wife early Monday and critically wounded her boyfriend before turning the gun on himself in crime that police are describing as "domestic violence at its worst."
East Peoria Police Chief Ed Papis said 35-year-old Brian S. Sokolowski, whose last known address was in East Bangor, Pa., forced his way into apartment 2A at 101 Floss Mar Court about 12:25 a.m. Armed with a shotgun, Sokolowski fired upon Heidi M. Sokolowski, 26, her boyfriend, Rudy A. Navarro, 28, and then committed suicide inside the second-story, two-bedroom apartment.
Both Heidi and Brian Sokolowski were pronounced dead at the scene, Tazewell County Coroner Dennis Conover said, while Navarro was listed in critical condition at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. A hospital spokeswoman would not confirm or deny whether he was a patient.
Navarro’s 16-year-old brother, who lived with him in the apartment, reportedly witnessed the crime and called 911.
Heidi Sokolowski’s two young boys, ages 3½ years and 15 months, were also inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said.
Papis said his department’s investigation was ongoing and that it was unclear how long Heidi and Brian Sokolowski — married in 2002 — had been separated and whether there had been violence between them in the past.
"In talking to the 16-year-old there was some indication that there was a very strong rift between Mr. Sokolowski and Heidi Sokolowski," Papis said.
Conover said an order of protection was filed against Brian Sokolowski, though it was not served to him before the deadly shooting.
"Generally, when a situation escalates to this point it has been going on for a long time," said Martha Herm, the director of the Center for Prevention of Abuse.
Papis also added that police dispatchers received a call from Heidi Sokolowski’s mother, albeit too late, warning them of Brian Sokolowski and asking officers to check on her daughter’s welfare.
"When our officers were there, and it was after the fact, our department received a call that there was possibly going to be some problems at that address," Papis said. The mother was reportedly in Pennsylvania visiting Heidi Sokolowski’s two young girls when she called police.
No relatives of the Sokolowskis or of Navarro could not be reached for comment.
Frank Radosevich II can be reached at (309) 686-3142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.