12/08/2006

Cops wounded, man killed in Chicago shootout

By Dennis Sullivan and Mitch Dudek
The Chicago Tribune

New Lenox, Ill.- Two New Lenox police officers were shot and wounded and a motorist was killed when they returned fire Thursday night at a traffic stop outside a high school, officials said.

New Lenox Police Chief Daniel Martin said the officers were pursuing a vehicle on Lincoln Highway about 7:45 p.m. and stopped it in the parking lot of Lincoln-Way Central High School. The driver emerged and drew a gun, he said. "He began firing on the officers. The officers returned fire," Martin said.

The officers were wounded and were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Martin said. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

The suspect, who was alone in the car, also was wounded and taken to Silver Cross, Martin said.

The man, whose identity was being withheld pending notification of family, was pronounced dead at 8:31 p.m. Thursday in the emergency room at Silver Cross, according to the Will County Coroner's Office. He appeared to have multiple gunshot wounds, an office spokeswoman said in a statement this morning.

Illinois State Police were investigating the shooting, but further details were unavailable, a sergeant in the Joliet District said.

Martin would not say why police were pursuing the vehicle. He said he thought it was the first time officers in the department had ever been shot.

Students, teachers and parents at nearby Lincoln-Way Central High School were locked in and away from the police activity until at least 9:30 p.m., said District 210 spokeswoman Stacy Holland, although the school was not involved in the incident. She said a wrestling match against Lockport High School had been scheduled for 6 p.m.

Chuck Gatto, owner of Gatto's Restaurant at Schoolhouse Road and Lincoln Highway, south of the school, said that at about 8 p.m. he saw what he thought was a car crash. He didn't think much of it, but then he said police called about a half-hour later to tell him to lock his doors in case a suspect was loose.

Adults could be seen running from the school across the parking lot, he said.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Gatto said.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

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