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Police believe Chicago shootings related; search for blue car

July 3, 1999
Web posted at: 11:46 a.m. EDT (1546 GMT)

SKOKIE, Illinois (CNN) -- Three Chicago-area police departments were looking Saturday for the driver of a blue car they believe is the link among several drive-by shootings, including one that killed a former college basketball coach.

Minorities were targeted in each incident Friday night, all occurring within 12 miles of each other.

Six Orthodox Jewish men walking home after Friday services were shot and wounded in the first incident, in northern Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood. A man and a 15-year-old boy were reported in serious condition, and two men in fair condition, after four separate incidents; two more men were treated and released.

Later, former Northwestern coach Ricky Byrdsong was hit in the back with a .22-caliber bullet near his home in suburban Skokie.

"Ricky Byrdsong was walking in an area near his home with family members, when he was fired at least seven times," Lt. Barry Silverberg, detective commander for the Skokie police department, told CNN on Saturday.

Byrdsong, 42, was taken to Evanston Hospital, where he died during surgery at 12:42 a.m. CDT (1:42 a.m. EDT) Saturday morning.

Police said a vehicle matching the one witnesses described from the previous shootings was later involved "in a traffic dispute" in suburban Northbrook, and the driver fired a number of shots at four Asian males in another vehicle. None were injured.

Byrdsong's home
Police enter Byrdsong's home in surburban Chicago late Friday  

Police won't speculate on a motive, Silverberg said.

Byrdsong, who is black, was fired as Northwestern basketball coach in March 1997. Neighbors said he has lived in Skokie for about five years.

Byrdsong's four-year record at Northwestern was 34-78, including 10-62 in the Big Ten Conference. His 1995 team was linked to a point-shaving scandal, but government prosecutors said he was ignorant of the scheme.

Byrdsong spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Western Michigan and Iowa State, where he played college basketball for the Cyclones. He later coached at Detroit Mercy.

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August 14, 1997

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