Fire chief credited with saving wounded cop's life
Deputy Chief Ken Koeppen happened to be in the area and rushed to the scene where an officer was shot in the chin
By Sally Ho and Dan Hinkel
ARLINGTON, Ill. — After allegedly harassing his ex-girlfriend for weeks, a man threatened the woman and her mother with a gun in a Northwest suburban home, shot a police officer who tried to intervene and was then fatally shot by police, authorities said.
A firefighter who by chance was eating dinner near the scene in Arlington Heights on Thursday night helped save the life of Officer Michael McEvoy, police said.
After the 52-year-old officer was dragged from the home with a wound to the chin area, fire Deputy Chief Ken Koeppen, who had come outside after seeing emergency lights, helped stanch the bleeding.
McEvoy, a 24-year veteran, was listed in critical but stable condition at a hospital Friday and was expected to recover, authorities said.
"Ken Koeppen was a hero in all this," said Arlington Heights police Cmdr. Andrew Whowell. "It was an act of God that he was (there)."
The gunfire capped a span of weeks in which the alleged gunman, Eric M. Anderson, 41, of Niles, persistently harassed a woman who had broken up with him in late November, according to court records. Less than a week before he died, Anderson was charged with sending harassing emails to his 39-year-old ex-girlfriend even though police had warned him not to contact her, court records show. He was released on bond after his arrest Sunday, police said.
A judge signed an emergency order of protection against him Monday, ordering Anderson to stay away from his ex-girlfriend.
"I feel that he may still try and contact me after this," the woman wrote in her petition for the order. "I just want him to leave me alone."
Around 7 p.m. Thursday, McEvoy and three other officers responded to a report of a man with a gun at a town house in the 1900 block of Windham Court. Anderson's ex-girlfriend was at the home visiting her mother, who had called police and then escaped unhurt, Whowell said.
McEvoy was the first officer to enter the house and was shot once, Whowell said. A fellow officer dragged him from the house, police said.
As the shooting turned into a hostage situation, Koeppen rushed from dinner with his father-in-law and used his first aid training to help the wounded officer, the firefighter said.
"I put pressure on the wound, keeping the bleeding down and helping stabilize things until paramedics arrived," he said.
McEvoy, a patrol officer and forensic technician whom Whowell described as a "go-to person" at the department, was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
"It did not hit anything vital, even though he lost a lot of blood," Whowell said.
Anderson held his ex-girlfriend in the house while a negotiator tried to persuade him to surrender, and for a time police believed they were making progress, Whowell said. Police flooded the area and evacuated neighboring homes while the village issued automated calls warning residents to stay clear of the area. Gunfire rang out as police shot out streetlights around the home in an effort to create a tactical advantage.
About two hours into the standoff, Anderson and the woman left the house for an attached garage, Whowell said, and officers confronted him. The woman ran away as Anderson pointed his gun at officers, who shot him multiple times, Whowell said.
"He pointed a gun at them. You hit a point of no return," the commander said of the fatal shooting.
Anderson was taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights and was pronounced dead at 11:02 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Illinois state police are investigating the officers' shooting of Anderson, Whowell said.
Anderson had a record of felony convictions from the 1990s, and he spent time in prison early in that decade for burglary, theft and damaging property, said Tom Shaer, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections. Whowell said Anderson's history included arrests on weapons charges.
He also had recently been charged with harassing the Crystal Lake woman he held hostage Thursday.
The woman wrote in her petition for a protection order that she broke up with Anderson Nov. 25 but he continued to "bother her" with phone calls and sent money to her at her workplace after she'd told him not to. He also sent her an apology card, she said, but she told him she didn't trust him.
Anderson recently told her he used a GPS system to track her car, and he followed her to a restaurant and to a friend's house, she wrote. He continued to call and text message her and he eventually rang the doorbell at the friend's house and was told to leave, she wrote. The woman left the residence and he followed.
At a stoplight, Anderson approached her vehicle. She told him to leave her alone and he punched her rolled-up window, the woman wrote. When she got home, he was waiting, she wrote. He knew details of her recent whereabouts and told her he could get into her home without her alarm sounding, she wrote.
The woman wrote that she called police, and McHenry County court records show that Crystal Lake police warned him last Friday to not contact her. But he continued to call and email her Saturday, she said.
On Sunday he contacted her and said he would come to her workplace, she wrote. She called the police again that day, and McHenry County court records show a Crystal Lake officer again told him not to contact her. Minutes later he emailed her again, according to court records.
An officer called him and he voluntarily sat for an interview, admitting to contacting her after being told not to, said Crystal Lake police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior.
He was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of electronic harassment. He was released that night after posting $150 bond for each charge, according to court records.
On Monday, a judge granted the order of protection and scheduled a hearing for Dec. 23.
It was not clear whether Anderson was served with the order before he was shot dead Thursday night.
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