Rockford

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Imagine a presidential debate that is civil and about issues. That’s what happened Friday at Jefferson High School in Rockford, where students Andrea Stout and Haifa Ali debated. They weren’t pretending to be the current presidential candidates: Instead, they represented the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties. The two candidates answered questions about immigration, voting rights, higher education, and the economy. The teachers who organized the debate, Steve Shelton and...

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

What does it mean to be an American? We continue our election year series, A Nation Engaged, by looking at American Identity. Nearly four decades ago, Sunil Puri left Mumbai, India to visit a relative in the U.S. He showed up in Rockford, Illinois, fresh out of high school and with $150 in his pocket. He’s come a long way since 1979. “I was a rebel who believed in the promise called America,” says Puri. And not with a solid blessing from his parents. But as the youngest of six sons, he knew...

Flickr User Chris Rice/CC 2.0

Northern Illinois police say residents have reported sightings of scary clowns. They occurred in areas such as DeKalb and Rockford and mirror similar reports coming in from across the country since late August. Rockford police say most reports have been unfounded, with the exception of one dressed for a radio promotion. DeKalb police officer Craig Woodruff says there were two reports late Tuesday night. One allegedly fled the scene when spotted by passerby, but the other was reportedly riding...

CherryVale Mall Reopens After Shooting

Oct 1, 2016

Police are looking for seven men in connection with a shooting at CherryVale Mall Friday. The busy mall just east of Rockford was on lockdown for several hours, then evacuated. Two groups of men had an altercation in the mall around 5 p.m. Friday, according to police. One man pulled out a gun and fired shots. Traces of blood were found in the mall, but no reported injuries. All seven involved in the fight fled and police are still looking for them. A spokesman for the Winnebago County Sheriff...

Rockford Police Department

Rockford police suspect four people found dead after a weekend house fire were victims of a homicide. A house on 2815 Garfield Drive caught fire Saturday, and the bodies of 27-year-old Keandra Austin and her three children ( 6-year-old Keeryn Austin, 9-year-old Deangalo Totty, and 6-month-old Aliya Beasley-Austin) were found in the wreckage. Autopsies conducted by the Winnebago County Coroner's Office were inconclusive on the cause of death. The Rockford Register-Star reports the family moved...

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