Murder charges announced in Cliffbreakers shooting

UPDATE: Sean D. Burks turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday, Dec. 6. He is currently lodged in the Winnebago County Jail on a $5 million bond.

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — An active arrested warrant has been issued in the deadly shooting that took place at Cliffbreakers Resort and Conference Center in the early hours of Jan. 1.

Sean D. Burks, 31, of Rockford, has been charged with 32 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting that stemmed from an altercation that took place during a New Year’s Eve party.

Burks is accused of gunning down 34-year-old Joshua Jamerson, a Wisconsin man who was at the party when the fight broke out around 5 a.m. Jamerson’s death marked the first homicide of the year, after Rockford rounded out 2016 with 27 killings.

Three other victms, a 27-year-old man, 29-year-old man and 34-year-old man were also shot. One man underwent surgery at a local hospital, while two were treated for non-life threatening injuries. All three men told police they were shot during the party.

Burks has also been charged with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Initial bond has been set at $5 million. Burks is still at large.

Police are asking anyone with information about his whereabouts or other information about the incident to contact the Rockford Police Department Investigations Bureau at 779-500-6551 or Crime Stoppers 815-963-7867.

“It’s important that the public assist us with information they have,” Bruscato said at a Wednesday press conference. “Not only in this case, but if [anyone] has information about any case, help us. It helps us make inroads into the crime issues that are facing our community.”

Bruscato and Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea would not comment on the details of the investigation, but said area law enforcement agencies are following every lead they receive.

“Law enforcement is going to have their ideas on how they are going to follow through on locating someone and apprehending them on a warrant, but it just may be quicker and more expedient if we get the public’s help,” Bruscato said.

First-degree murder is a Class M felony punishable by 45 years to life in the Illinois Department of Corrections. R.

This story has been updated.

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