2 Chicago officers released from hospital hours after being shot

The officers had been responding to an alert from ShotSpotter, the city's gunshot detection system


By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Clare Proctor and Jeremy Gorner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Two Chicago police officers responding to a “shots fired” alert from ShotSpotter, the city’s gunshot detection system, were shot and wounded early Sunday on the West Side, authorities confirmed.

One officer had been in critical but stable condition and the other had been in good condition, officials said. Both officers were released from Mount Sinai around 10:45 a.m., police said. The man who allegedly shot the two male officers — a 45-year-old convicted felon, according to Superintendent David Brown — also was shot in a “lower extremity,” police said, and he was taken to Stroger Hospital.

“Thankfully, none of the injuries are life-threatening to either the officers or the offender. But it just underscores the danger that our men and women in the Police Department face every single day. They run to danger to protect us. And we can’t ever forget that,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Both injured officers were discharged less than four hours after the shooting, ceremoniously rolled out in wheelchairs in front of a line of approximately 50 waiting officers before getting in their families’ cars, police spokesman Tom Ahern said. The other officers lined the cars as they drive away, saluting them, he said. Officers began lining up to witness the release around 10:40 a.m.

Officers then gathered to pray after both injured officers were driven away, during which Brown said a blessing for officers who came to salute the men out of the hospital to encourage them in a “hypercritical time” for police.

Both officers are expected to make a full recovery, Brown said.

He urged the “silent majority in this city who fully support our police officers,” to be more vocal and that officers need to hear from them.

The officers had been working in Lawndale when they were dispatched to the ShotSpotter alert near the 1500 block of South Lawndale Avenue about 7:23 a.m., Brown said. When they saw a man in a vacant lot near the location the ShotSpotter alert indicated, they approached him and were immediately fired upon, Brown said.

“They were in uniform, clearly Chicago police officers, and this offender had no regard for their position as police officers — no regard — and began trying to kill them. Let’s be clear: This offender turned and immediately tried to kill these officers by firing a gun at them and hitting both of them. But for the good Lord’s grace that we’re not here talking about planning a funeral for our officers,” Brown said.

Lightfoot reiterated many of the same points as Brown during a 9:15 a.m. joint news conference outside Mount Sinai Hospital, stressing that the officers were “readily identifiable as police officers when they were fired upon.” Brown also said there was no foot pursuit prior to the gunfire.

One officer was shot in the hand and was in good condition. Police outside Mount Sinai said they expected he would be released sometime after 10:15 a.m.

The other officer was shot in the hip and in the shoulder above his vest and had been in critical but stable condition, Brown said.

Brown said there have been 16 Chicago police officers shot in the past 15 months. In the same time frame, 108 officers have been fired upon, he said.

“It’s just too early now to go into the details of this investigation,” Brown said. He expects investigators will pull video from the area as well as body camera footage from the injured officers.

“I would just ask that we also put the same attention on this video with ... these two officers being shot, that we put on others. To just see how quickly these split-second incidents happen,” Brown said. “Officers oftentimes have often no time to react, so let’s make sure we put the same pressures on looking at this video to get a totality of the circumstances, a sense of how quickly our officers are put in danger on these calls that involve gunplay.”

Repeating a common refrain, Lightfoot again called for an end to violence in the city.

“Let’s say a prayer for all involved. Let’s pray for peace in our city,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to put these guns down. We’ve got to stop the flow of illegal guns into our city.”

These are at least the fifth and sixth Chicago police officers to be shot in the past two months, according to Tribune records.

On March 25, a Deering District officer was shot in the South Side’s Brighton Park neighborhood while he and other officers went after a gunman who shot a security worker at a Home Depot. The gunman was shot and killed by another officer, and the wounded cop and the security worker survived their injuries.

That shooting came five days after an Austin District officer was shot in the hand on the West Side by a gunman who, authorities say, fired at several cops and three other people near Maypole and LaCrosse avenues in the Austin community. A 29-year-old man was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

On March 15, an off-duty officer was shot while sitting in his vehicle at a traffic light in the 8900 block of South Stony Island Avenue in the Calumet Heights neighborhood on the South Side. That officer was shot in the abdomen and needed surgery. A $1,000 reward has been offered for the capture of at least two suspects wanted in that case.

The day before that shooting, on March 14, an on-duty sergeant was shot outside the Gresham District Police Station, 7808 S. Halsted St., on the South Side. That sergeant suffered a graze wound to his chin, and there’s been no word of any arrests in that case.

Lightfoot, who attended a paramedic graduation ceremony two days ago, also praised the dedication and talent of the medical team at Mount Sinai and the paramedics who treated the officers at the scene and on the way to the hospital.

She noted one paramedic, Gerardo Casas, graduated Friday and, according to Chicago Fire officials, his first call was responding to the two officers who were shot.

“I attended a graduation of paramedics from the Fire Department, who were immediately put into action, and I’m told that one of those paramedics that graduated on Friday was part of the team that carried these officers here to the hospital,” she said.

In a statement released by email around 11 a.m., police said a comprehensive use of force investigation will be initiated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability with the full cooperation of Chicago police. The two officers will be assigned to administrative duties for 30 days, as is routine.

Brown mentioned the shooting occurred during National Police Week, which was first celebrated as National Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, 1962, under President John F. Kennedy. Brown said that because of COVID-19 restrictions, the city has been unable to hold a local ceremony.

“These are brave people. These are people who are sworn to protect all of the people of Chicago and they take this oath knowing they are putting their lives at risk to save other lives. They have recovered over 4,000 guns this year — 4,000. That’s more than what is recovered in New York and L.A. combined,” Brown said. “And every gun recovery is a potential deadly force encounter. And so these officers’ bravery and courage is on display every day, every shift, every hour.”

©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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