10/03/2011

Off-duty officer thwarts robbery, shoots 4 suspects

Ill. officer wrestled gun away from one of four in pizzeria robbery; 1 suspect dead, 3 others injured

Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD, Ill. — A three-year veteran of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department was visiting a friend at a pizza delivery restaurant Saturday when he unwittingly became the centerpiece of an explosive drama that left one dead and three others injured.

The officer was in a small office area inside Marie’s Pizza, talking with the son of the business owners, when three men entered the tiny business. One pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the off-duty officer and the employee, neither of whom were identified today. A fourth suspect stood outside near the door.

A struggle ensued, and the officer was able to wrestle control of the suspect’s handgun. There was another struggle, over another handgun in the employee’s waistband. The fourth suspect then entered the business to assist, even as the officer got control of the employee’s handgun and used it to shoot all four suspects.

A 16-year-old died at the scene. The other suspects, in their early 20s, are being treated for life-threatening injuries, Rockford police Chief Chet Epperson said.

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