Vest saves Ill. cop in shootout

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Vest saves Tenn. officer during gunbattle

By Steve Schmadeke and Deborah Horan
The Chicago Tribune

SKOKIE, Ill. — A quiet block of large homes in north suburban Lincolnwood was the scene of a shootout Monday afternoon when a Skokie police officer pulled over a car driven by bank robbery suspect and they exchanged gunshots before the suspect was fatally wounded, police said.

The officer, whom Skokie police did not identify, escaped injury when his bulletproof vest repelled a shot fired at him, according to an official at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where the officer was treated and released. The robbery suspect also was taken there and later died.

It all started around 4:50 p.m. when a black male wearing a blue-and-white bandanna held up a Fifth Third bank at 240 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook, said Skokie Police Officer Frederick W. Brehmer. A Skokie officer spotted a white car with a license plate matching the description of the suspect's vehicle on the Edens Expressway, he said.

The officer was preparing to back up another Skokie officer who had pulled over a white car when he spotted the suspect's white Pontiac, Brehmer said.

"It was very heads-up police work," he said. "Bad timing for the bad guy."

After a short high-speed pursuit with police sirens blaring, the suspect pulled off the Edens onto Touhy Avenue, turned south on Cicero Avenue and then east on Estes Avenue, Brehmer said. The man emerged from the white Pontiac and opened fire, he said.

A resident who lives near the shooting scene reportedly heard at least 12 shots.

The suspect was not identified late Monday, but Brehmer said he had a criminal history that did not include bank robbery.

Copyright 2008 The Chicago Tribune

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