June 01, 2009
Officer Down: Police Officer Alejandro (Alex) Valadez
Officer Down: Police Officer Alejandro (Alex) Valadez - [Chicago, Illinois]
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Officer Alex Valadez was shot and killed while investigating reports of gunfire on South Hermitage Road shortly after midnight. As he and his partner were questioning several residents a vehicle drove up and an occupant opened fire, striking Officer Valadez once in the leg and once in the head.
He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds later in the day.
Officer Valadez had served with the agency for three years. He is survived by his parents, sister, brother, and girlfriend. His siblings and girlfriend also serve with the Chicago Police Department.
Officer took tough jobs; He worked nights in some of the riskiest areas
By Kara Spak, Mark Konkol and Annie Sweeney
The Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Police Officer Alejandro Valadez was doing what officers across the city do each night when shots ring out and people call for help -- he went to find out what happened.
But this time, as the young officer stood on a city street early Monday talking to someone about the shots, yet another gun blast was fired off from a passing car. Valadez -- whose brother, sister and girlfriend are all Chicago Police officers -- was shot in the head and died 14 hours later.
"We don't run away from the fire. We run into it,'' said one veteran officer. "The problem is once you are there, you can get caught up in it."
Valadez, 27, had been a police officer just three years. He and his girlfriend were expecting a child.
He was assigned to the busy Englewood District, where he worked the midnight shift. His drive led commanders to assign him to one of the district's incident cars, which means he and his partners monitored so-called "hot-spots" where crime was spiking.
Englewood District Cmdr. Keith Calloway said he has a few requirements for incident-car officers -- energy and the drive to do the right thing and make a difference.
"He was the kind of officer who'd be there day and night,'' Calloway said, noting how Valadez worked beyond his shift on big arrests. "If there was any kind of hot call, he was always going in a heartbeat."
There'd been flares of violence throughout the day Sunday on the 6000 block of South Hermitage, where Valadez -- wearing plain clothes -- answered his last call just after midnight, Calloway said. He'd only been on the block a few minutes before the shots were fired.
Supt. Jody Weis said detectives were talking to several people about the shooting.
As Valadez, who was called Alex by those close to him, was removed from life support at Stroger Hospital mid-afternoon Monday, anguished officers cried together and leaned on one another for support. Throughout the afternoon, officers had been ushered back into the patient area of the hospital's ER in small groups. Each walked out grim-faced as a new one went in.
A group of about 30 was taken back into the patient area in the minutes before the death was announced.
One officer buried his head in his hands. Friends carried prayer cards. Others lined up single file to go in and pay their last respects.
Outside the hospital, a friend said Valadez attended Brother Rice High School and was a "good guy'' who was outgoing and funny, a jokester.
On Valadez's Southwest Side block, he was remembered as a kind neighbor, one who went out of his way to call the city for a resident who found an injured rabbit in her yard. He did yard work with his father, planting new grass just last week.
At his district in Englewood, it was his smile that stood out to his bosses.
"The smile, the attitude,'' Calloway said. "He was always pleasant, always ready to give his all.''
Weis, who spent early Monday morning at the hospital and returned later as Valadez was removed from life support, called him a "great officer.'' Valadez earned a department commendation and 22 honorable mentions.
Weis also spent time with the officer's family -- Valadez's sister is assigned to the evidence and recovered property section and his brother works in the Ogden District. Valadez's girlfriend was assigned to the Englewood District.
"Even though members of his family are on the job, and they know the risk he'd face, that doesn't make it any easier when a 27-year-old man is no longer with us,'' Weis said. "But they're a strong family. I know they'll pull through. We'll be with them every minute . . . through all of this.''
Valadez's organs were being donated.