After Holiday Hills shooting, village talks how fence interfered with police response

HOLIDAY HILLS – The house at 1313 W. Northeast Shore Drive – where two McHenry County sheriff's deputies were shot last week – is separated from its next-door neighbor by a long black fence.

The fence, which police said interferred with their rescue of the officers and search operations, runs the length of Holiday Hills' Hyde Park Avenue, separating it from a parallel Hyde Park Avenue in LeVilla Vaupell Country Club.

In a bizarre coincidence, multiple sources said the most recent version of it was put in by Scott B. Peters, a private contractor, who is charged with shooting the deputies Oct. 16.

The 79-home community is not a part of Holiday Hills even though the first stretch of Vaupell Drive leading to the subdivision is in the neighboring village. That entrance is the only way into LeVilla Vaupell. A gate marked for "Fire Trucks Only" lies about halfway down Holiday Hills' version of Hyde Park Avenue.

The fence has been brought up for debate in Holiday Hills a few times over the years, and at the Holiday Hills Village Board meeting Monday evening, the fence again was in the spotlight.

"The two deputies that were downed in the front yard had to be dragged more than 150 yards because they couldn't be dragged around the corner through the fence and gotten emergency care," Village President Dan Drury said. "We had two officers from Island Lake that had to physically drag these guys a great distance. ... We need to address that fence."

Peters is jailed on several charges, including six counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, for what authorities are calling a police ambush. If convicted of all 13 counts against him, he faces a possible prison term of 165 years to life.

Peters allegedly shot and injured the officers with an AR-15 rifle as they were conducting a well-being check at his home.

The fence, owned by a homeowner's association, also made the 16-hour search after Peters fled the home after the shooting, which happened about 1 a.m., more difficult. It also limited how emergency responders could get around the village, Drury said.

He also said he'd like to write Nunda Township Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance about the issue.

But the fence also keeps the neighborhood from being flooded with a lot of traffic and keeps the three resident-only beaches private, said Leanne Stoddard, the president of the homeowner's association. A fence always has separated the two Hyde Park Avenues as long as LeVilla Vaupell has existed.

"That's why many people bought houses here," Stoddard said. "There would be bigger issues if you removed it."

The McHenry County Sheriff's Office doesn't plan on getting involved in the issue, except to say that it would help with the effective management of emergency personnel, Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said. He plans on including that note in the thank you letters he plans on writing.

"During the whole incident, it was brought up that it would be nice to have more than one entrance and exit into the neighborhood," Zinke said. "... There was no other option. You couldn’t come in from another direction. It impeded our response, but it certainly didn’t prevent our response."

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