By Jeremy Gorner, Meredith Rodriguez and Peter Nickeas
CHICAGO — A Chicago Police officer was able to speak after a bullet fragment hit him in the head in the South Chicago neighborhood Sunday evening as officers served a search warrant and six people were being questioned in the incident, authorities said.
The tactical officer assigned to the South Chicago District was shot between the eyes while trying to serve a narcotics search warrant at a home in the 2700 block of east 92nd Street, near Manistee Avenue, about 8:45 p.m., police said.
The 34-year-old officer, a veteran of 11 years, initially was taken to Advocate Trinity Hospital by his partner. At Trinity, he was alert and able to speak to other officers and family members, police said. He was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for further treatment.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, speaking late Sunday at Northwestern, said that 34-year-old officer was serving a narcotics search warrant at the home when he was struck by a ricocheting bullet, a fragment of which was lodged in his forehead.
No shots were fired by any officer, McCarthy said.
"He's a little dazed. He got hit pretty hard in the head, but his spirits are good," McCarthy said. "We were joking around a bit."
The officer was wounded inside the home after police began the process of serving the warrant. Tactical officers had approached the house Sunday night, one team in the back and one in the front, and the team in the back had recognized the target of the search warrant through a window, a source said.
The officers gained entry to the house looking for the target of the warrant, who was known to live in the basement, and when officers were in the basement, someone fired, and the officer was wounded, according to a statement from Police News Affairs.
Everyone in the home was taken into custody and was being questioned by police, an official said. A weapon believed used in the shooting was found by police.
Sunday's shooting occurred nearly two years after another South Chicago District tactical officer, Del Pearson, was shot in the chest while chasing suspect wanted on a curfew violation. Pearson too was driven in a squad car by fellow officers to nearby Trinity Hospital before being transferred via ambulance to another hospital. He survived his injuries.
At the scene Sunday night, a swarm of police vehicles — including a police command van, a forensics services vehicle and several K-9 units — sat scattered along 92nd Street. District tactical officers had been unable to complete their execution of the warrant, so gang enforcement officers were doing that work after the shooting crime scene was processed.
Dozens of officers — uniformed, plainclothes and detectives — stood along the street and outside the two-story home that was targeted in the warrant. Police were walking around and inside the frame home, which sits between two 1 1/2-story brick buildings.
Two neighbors in a single-story row of apartments on Anthony Avenue just north of 92nd Street cracked their screen doors and poked their heads out to try and learn from each other what happened. One woman, who recently moved to the neighborhood, had her son on the phone reading a news article to her about the incident.
About 11:45 p.m., Chicago Fire Department ladder truck 17 pulled up to the scene, requested there by police who needed a ladder.
Police cordoned off 92nd Street with yellow and red tape for close to a block. The crime scene was just west of the Chicago Skyway.
One man driving home in a late model car pulled up near the yellow tape and questioned a reporter and another patron standing outside the scene about whether he can drive through.
"I stay right here on this block right here," he shouted before parking his car outside the tape.
Charles Tarr, who lives in an apartment across the street from the home where the shooting occurred, didn't hear gunshots. But he said he noticed more police activity than usual.
"I knew it was something major," he told reporters outside his apartment. "I thought that they was actually looking for like a fugitive or somebody on the run...a chase or something like that. I didn't know that the police had got shot at first. I was like, 'Why are all these police out here?'"
Tarr said he talked to another officer after the shooting who told him about the wounded cop.
"He had told me that the police officer was just doing his job," said Tarr.
Earlier and a few blocks away, the ambulance carrying the wounded officer left Advocate Trinity Hospital as part of a procession of six or seven marked and unmarked squad cars.
All the emergency vehicles, the ambulance included, moved east down 93rd Street. The throng of vehicles was en route downtown to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, about 12 miles north of Trinity.
As the ambulance moved through downtown and north of the Chicago River, dozens of cars descended down the Columbus Drive bridge, mostly silent, after being ordered to cut their sirens by a supervisor because the convoy was approaching Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The ambulance was behind three CPD cars and followed by dozens more. Cars from the Near North Police District staffed intersections along the route in anticipation of the convoy.
"Eighteenth District units, put all your closures into effect," a supervisor ordered over the radio.
The cars moved into the intersection and cut off traffic. A tanker truck skidded to a halt at Illinois Street as it pulled into a left turn lane but was cut off by an officer.
"Have all the units shut off their sirens, we're close to a hospital," a supervisor ordered. The dispatcher repeated the command:
"For those units approaching the hospital, I need you to shut off your sirens."
As a family scurried through a crosswalk to get across Columbus, an officer yelled, "Get off the street!"
Copyright 2014 the Chicago Tribune
McClatchy-Tribune News Service