Officers seen as heroes
in Chicago train station shootout
[Chicago, IL]

By Frank Main
December 31, 2000, Sunday, Late Sports Final Edition
Copyright 2000 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
Chicago Sun-Times
December 31, 2000, Sunday, Late Sports Final Edition

(CHICAGO) -- The Amtrak investigator heard two shots behind him.

He waited for blood to run down his face.

But the shots hadn't come from the gunman holding a .40-caliber Glock pistol to the back of his head in Union Station. They were fired by a federal agent who had come to his rescue and killed the gunman.

Those are some of the new details of heroism emerging from the harrowing gun battle Dec. 12 during a standoff between three law enforcement officers and two gunmen.

"All three officers acted very heroically," said Michael Hillebrand, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The standoff begins

Law enforcement officials gave this account:

It was the day after Chicago was hit with a foot of snow. Trains were running late, and crowds were milling about Union Station through the day. A DEA agent was working special detail with an Amtrak investigator and a Chicago police officer when they became suspicious of two Amtrak passengers.

Daniel Wentworth, 26, and Andrew Ross, 25, had paid cash for their trip from Syracuse, N.Y., to Tucson, Ariz., just before getting on the train, and the officers suspected they might be drug or money couriers.

The team agreed to approach the men and question them after they stepped off in Chicago around 1 p.m. for a layover.

The DEA agent approached Wentworth when he walked inside the station concourse. Wentworth began to open his jacket, revealing a pistol and alarming the Amtrak investigator and Chicago police officer standing a few feet away.

"Gun!" the Amtrak investigator yelled.

The Amtrak and Chicago officers grappled with Wentworth and wrestled him to the ground. Wentworth pressed a .40-caliber Glock to the back of the Chicago officer's head as the Amtrak investigator held the muzzle of the gun, sources said.

"Back off or I will blow her f******* head off!" Wentworth allegedly said.

The Chicago officer managed to hit a button on the gun that ejected Wentworth's ammunition clip, leaving only one bullet in the chamber, sources said.

A brief chase, then shots

As his friend struggled on the floor, Ross pulled his own Glock and scuffled with the DEA agent. Ross broke free and ran through a sliding glass door, back outside to the train platform. The agent followed.

Ross scurried back into the concourse and pointed his gun at the head of the Amtrak investigator, who was still in a standoff on the ground with Wentworth.

For a few tense moments, nearly everyone seemed to have a gun pointed at them. Wentworth was holding his pistol on the Chicago officer, Ross was pointing his gun at the Amtrak investigator's head, and the DEA agent was aiming his gun at Ross.

The shooting began after the Amtrak investigator twisted Wentworth's gun away and the Chicago officer crawled to safety, sources said.

The DEA agent fired at Ross, killing him and saving the Amtrak investigator's life.

The investigator pushed himself away from Wentworth, and he and the DEA agent both fired at Wentworth, seriously wounding him.

Hillebrand would not discuss the sequence of events because the shooting remains under investigation. And Chicago police spokesman David Bayless said he could confirm only that the Amtrak investigator fired at Wentworth -- a fact that was not previously disclosed.

"He was part of the struggle," a federal law enforcement source said of the Amtrak investigator. "He was instrumental in preventing the female officer from getting hurt."

The Chicago officer suffered a bullet wound in a leg during the struggle, but investigators said they have not determined whose gun fired that shot. Ballistics tests are not complete, Hillebrand said.

The Amtrak investigator has not been credited publicly with helping save the life of the Chicago officer. Until now, authorities have described the actions of only the DEA agent.

The aftermath

Police also have not given a full account of what they believe Wentworth and Ross were doing, though one investigator said the money may have come from a drug ripoff. Both men were wearing body armor and carrying about $15,000 in cash, police said.

Wentworth, Ross and at least two other men are suspected in the aborted burglary of Gateway Auction Co. in Maine just days before the shoot-out, police said.

Weapons and ammunition were found in two vehicles after a police chase in Maine, but the suspects escaped. Wentworth's identification was found in a sport-utility vehicle loaded with military-style weapons, police said.

Wentworth now faces a murder charge in Ross' death, even though he did not shoot Ross, because he pulled his gun, sparking the shoot-out.

The shoot-out may have prevented worse carnage later on, the sources said.

The train was scheduled to continue through Texas, where Texas authorities were going to board the train to talk to Wentworth and Ross, sources said.

"Who knows how many people could have been killed?" one law enforcement source said.


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