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MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – What neighbors first thought was a case of a gunman celebrating the New Year turned out to be a shooting, resulting in the death of recent Collinsville High School graduate Miguel Villegas De-Santiago.

The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis has been activated to find the killer.

“Investigators are making significant progress in the investigation… actively working leads in order to identify the person(s) responsible for this heinous crime and bring them to justice,” Captain Brian Koberna, chief deputy commander of the Major Case Squad, said Monday.

Neighbors said the shooting happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday in the 3300 block of Princeton Avenue. There were multiple family gatherings going on at the time, with people outside taking advantage of the warm weather. Don Dowdy was barbecuing when he heard gunfire across the street.

“I hear a couple of rounds go off. I look over, the kid’s in the driveway with a 9mm up in the air…pop-pop,” Dowdy said.

There was a black pickup truck parked on the street. It appeared to empty. Dowdy thought the suspect was shooting to celebrate the New Year and yelled at him to stop.

“He kind of looked at me, took the gun, put it toward the window of the truck, popped three rounds and just kind of walked off,” Dowdy said.

Fellow neighbors said the gunman got into a white vehicle waiting down the street and was wearing a hoodie drawn tight around his face.

Dowdy’s daughter, Leigh Ann Minar, also lives on the block and was with De-Santiago’s mother near the truck after police arrived.

“I held her. I told her, ‘He can hear you, tell him you love him,’” Minar said. “She was speaking in Spanish. I did hear (her say) ‘amor,’ so I know she told him she loved him. It’s so sad. We’ve never had anything this horrible.”

“I’ve been here since ‘71. We ain’t never had nothing like that happen,” Dowdy said.

The Major Case Squad had no word on a possible motive for the shooting.

Close to 20 investigators are working the case. If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Major Case Squad at 618-296-5544.

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