10/12/2007

Help sought finding killer of Chicago officer's son

The officer's son was fatally shot defending a woman.

By Whitney Woodward
The Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO Police on Thursday asked for the public's help in finding the man who fatally shot the son of a Chicago police officer outside a Southwest Side fast-food restaurant.

Ronald Heard Jr., 23, was shot multiple times around 4:15 a.m. Saturday at a White Castle drive-through at 69th Street and Western Avenue, police said. Heard, the son, godson and nephew of Chicago police officers, was intervening in an altercation between the gunman and a woman in the drive-through when he was killed.

"He did a remarkable thing: He came to the aid of a young woman," Wentworth Area Cmdr. Patricia Walsh said Thursday at a news conference about the case. "He died for good actions."

The gunman fled in a late-model white Kia Shortage, with a luggage rack on top and spare tire mounted on the back, police said.

The vehicle may have had a dark graphic or some sort of discoloration to a passenger-side door, Walsh said.

The killer was described as an African-American man in his 20s, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 160 pounds, Walsh said. He has a dark complexion, black hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, three-quarter-length blue jeans and white gym shoes.

Police are reviewing surveillance video from the restaurant and a nearby police camera, and are trying to enhance the images, Walsh said.

The gunman was a passenger in the Kia that was in line at the drive-through when the car Heard was riding in pulled alongside a car with young women, which was behind the Kia, police said. The gunman got out of the SUV and approached Heard, offering to sell him marijuana, Walsh said. When Heard refused, the man asked a woman in the other car, Walsh said.

When she refused and asked him to move his car, the suspect became enraged, grabbed her arm and started yelling, police said. At that point, Heard got out of his car and confronted the man, who walked back to the Kia, retrieved a handgun and shot Heard multiple times.

Heard of the 8000 block of South Richmond Street was dead on the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

His uncle, John Griffin, said he saw similar situations too many times during his 20 years as a Chicago police officer.

"It was just the wrong place, wrong time. It can happen to anybody actually. That's what's scary," Griffin said. "I think without a gun, what you had Saturday was just a confrontation -- a few words, and everybody leaves. You put a gun into the equation, and you've got somebody dead."

Heard leaves behind twin boys, almost 1 year old.

The Fraternal Order of Police has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.

Police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call Wentworth Area detectives at 312-747-8380.

Copyright 2007 Chicago Tribune

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