Chicago police on Sunday captured the suspect in the fatal shooting of a police officer and the wounding of another the night before during a traffic stop in West Englewood.
Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown announced the arrest Sunday morning at CPD headquarters. He said the wounded officer remained in critical condition.
“Our officers need this city to pray for their strength, to pray for peace that they are comforted, that their families are comforted,” Brown said.
Both officers were shot during a traffic stop shortly after 9 p.m. at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue in West Englewood. They returned fire, hitting at least one suspect, police said.
Officers involved in the incident were equipped with body-worn cameras and much of what happened was caught on video, Brown noted.
He commended officers for continuing to show up and do their dangerous work after a night of tragedy. “I’m asking Chicago to wrap their arms around our police officers today and encourage them to continue their great work in protecting us all, he added.
All city buildings will have flags lowered to half-staff, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, speaking after Brown and declaring Sunday an official day of mourning.
Lightfoot urged an end to constant bickering over police reform, the argument over whether police are over-regulated, or whether they’ve been given free rein.
“Stop. Just, stop,” Lightfoot said. “This constant strife is not what we need in this moment.”
While the mayor said “we need to continue the journey to achieve constitutional, accountable policing,” she insisted “the police are not our enemies.”
She continued: “They are human, just as we are. Flawed, just as we are. … But also risking their lives every day for our safety and security.”
Chicago residents, she said, should remember the danger police officers put themselves in every day.
“When you see a police officer, say ‘thank you,’” Lightfoot said. “Just say, ‘thank you.’”
Brown said so far this year, 38 officers have been shot at, and 11 have been hit by gunfire.
The officer who was killed, a woman whose name has not yet been released, had been on the force three and a half years, Brown said. She was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Brown declined to release details about the slain officer at her mother’s request, noting the department will delay issuing any information “until she is ready.”
The wounded officer has been with the department six years, Brown said. He remained at University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was “fighting for his very life” in critical condition, according to First Deputy Eric Carter, who spoke to reporters outside the hospital early Sunday.
With him was Lightfoot, who said the officer who died was “very young on the job, but incredibly enthusiastic to do the work.” Brown had been out of town Saturday to finalize details of his mother’s funeral. On Sunday, he explained that she died suddenly last week.
Ald. Raymond Lopez, whose ward covers the shooting scene in West Englewood, took to Twitter Sunday after the news conference to slam the city’s response to the shooting.
“Lightfoot, Brown & Carter need to shut up & stop,” tweeted Lopez, a staunch advocate for officers. “Let the families & police process last night’s tragedy in peace [without] confrontation or argument,” added Lopez. “It’s not about you or your petty feelings. It’s about the brave men & women dealing with a collective pain, only needing our support.”
Investigators believe a male passenger in the suspect vehicle first opened fire, prompting the cops to shoot back, Brown said. The alleged shooter was then struck in the exchange of gunfire, the superintendent added.
He and another suspect were taken into custody shortly after the shooting, according to police communications from the scene.
While the alleged gunman was initially taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Brown said all the three suspects were now being questioned at Area One Headquarters. He declined to comment on what potentially prompted the deadly interaction.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the officer-involved shooting, Brown said. An agency spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although Brown said none of the suspects appear to have “extensive” criminal backgrounds, he told reporters that the alleged shooter had been arrested for robbery in 2019. He said that case has been adjudicated and resulted in some form of probation.
Both wounded officers were part of CPD’s Community Safety Team, created last year. The unit is intended to help forge stronger community ties on the South and West Sides. It was started with about 450 officers, and 200 more were added last September.
The incident was part of a violent night in Chicago, which also saw two mass shootings in Gresham and several triple shootings. In all, at least 45 people were shot between 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.
Some of the first police calls from the scene described one officer being shot.
“Officer down,” an officer radioed around 9:10 p.m.
“I got an officer down,” a police dispatcher repeats. “6-3 and Bell, officer down, officer down, shot twice, shot at police, officer down.
“Stay off my air, stay off my air,” the dispatcher continues, asking for no unnecessary calls on the channel. ”Everybody stay off the air, I got an officer down, 6-3 and Bell, start rolling.
An officer is heard yelling, in apparent distress, and the dispatcher says, “Give me two ambulances, two ambulances needed for two officers down, two officers down … Get those officers wrapped up going to 6-3 and Bell. I want a perimeter set up three blocks, north south, east, west.”
About a block from the shooting, neighbors looked out cautiously from their front yards on what one resident said was a “quiet block.”
“Be careful, they’re still looking for someone,” a woman warned a neighbor as she walked by.
Dozens of officers could be seen patrolling the neighborhood and blocking streets in the area while a police helicopter flew overhead.
Officers tied blue ribbons to trees shortly before midnight near the medical examiner’s office in preparation for a procession to bring the officer who died to the morgue.
Outside the medical center, a large crowd of police officers gathered outside an ambulance bay. They included city, county and state police officials and supporters.
Some in the crowd held a group prayer and others hugged each other and engaged in hushed conversation. Water bottles were passed out by police personnel wearing jackets that read “Peer Support.”
The last Chicago Police officers who died in the line of duty were Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo, who were chasing a man with a gun on the Far South Side when they were struck by a train and killed in December of 2018.
The last officer shot to death in the line of duty was Samuel Jimenez, who was killed just a month earlier while responding to a shooting at Mercy Hospital. Three other people died, including the gunman.
Contributing: Mohammad Samra