Chicago police officer's prognosis good after being shot in chest

A fleeing suspect opened fire and a bullet struck Officer Del Pearson

By Frank Main And Kim Janssen
Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — It wasn't the first time someone pulled a weapon on Chicago Police Officer Del Pearson while he was performing a seemingly routine task.

In June 2007, Pearson fatally shot a man who pointed a gun at him as the man fled from a traffic stop. Pearson was awarded the Superintendent's Award of Valor.

On Monday night, Pearson and other officers were questioning four people about what looked like a curfew violation.

This time, though, a fleeing suspect opened fire and a bullet struck Pearson in the chest above his bulletproof vest, police said.

Dozens of officers held a vigil outside Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn while Pearson, 47, underwent surgery to stop internal bleeding from the bullet lodged next to his spine.

By Tuesday afternoon, doctors had upgraded his condition to "good." He was alert and talking with his family, including his wife and two children, officials said.

Police had a 21-year-old "person of interest" in custody in the shooting, which happened about 10:45 p.m. Monday in the 8400 block of South Kingston in the South Chicago District.

After being chased down an alley and into the front yard of a home, the suspect opened fire, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said. Pearson and his partner engaged in a "gun battle" with the suspect, McCarthy said.

It wasn't clear whether the suspect was wounded.

The evidence includes 9mm bullet casings found at the scene, police said.

Police spoke with several witnesses and think they know where to find the gun used to shoot the officer, McCarthy said.

Pearson was shot about a block from where Ronald Guidry, 26, was gunned down less than a week ago. Guidry was shot in the neck on March 14 while sitting in a vehicle in the 8500 block of South Kingston.

Pearson, a tactical unit officer in the South Chicago District, has been with the department since 2003 and has been involved with the Brothers in Blue Motorcycle Club, a nonprofit group that includes police officers and firefighters.

He has won more than 100 awards and commendations over his eight-year career with the Chicago Police Department, records show.

Marilyn Brogan, a neighbor of Pearson in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood, said almost every family on the block lives in dread of a phone call telling them a loved one has been hurt in the line of duty.

"His family are in all our prayers," said Brogan, whose son and daughter are cops.

As many as half the homes on Pearson's block are owned by cops and firefighters, neighbors said.

"We talk shop over the garden fence, just like our fathers did - that's Mount Greenwood," said firefighter and nurse Pat Marshall, pointing to a row of neatly kept homes all owned by officers and other city employees.

Marshall's children play with Pearson's teenage son and daughter, and he's a familiar face at block parties, Marshall said.

Neighbors are pitching in to bring food and offer their support. "We take care of each other," Brogan said.

Firefighter Bill McHugh said Pearson coaches Little League and is often out on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"He's a great guy and a great neighbor," McHugh said.

Copyright 2012 Chicago Sun-Times

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