Two on-duty Chicago police officers have been shot in the Back of the Yards neighborhood Tuesday night on the city’s South Side.
It happened about 9 p.m. in the 4300 block of South Ashland Avenue.
Speaking to reporters outside Stroger Hospital, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the officers were sitting in a car when two other vehicles pulled up and their occupants opened fire at the officers. Those officers were able to return fire, but it doesn’t appear they hit anyone.
Johnson said police are taking to three people of interest in the shooting investigation.
“It’s just another example of how dangerous this job is,” said Johnson. “And I think people take it for granted that when police officers come to work every day, they put their lives on the line every single day they get in their car.”
One officer was shot in the back and the other was shot in the arm and hip, during “an encounter,” according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. They were in serious, but stable condition, according to Guglielmi.
Both Deering District tactical team officers were taken to Stroger Hospital, where their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening, police said.
A “manhunt” is underway, Guglielmi said.
“We should not be here at 11 o’clock at night thanking the Lord above that these officers survived,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez, whose 15th Ward covers Back of the Yards. “It is incomprehensible that this continues in our city, in our state, in our country.”
Johnson said police have recovered “multiple weapons that may have been involved” in the shooting. He said the officers were “conducting a follow-up investigation to a previous incident” when they were shot.
“Listen, if they will fire at police officers like that, they they have no thought process in terms of firing at other citizens of this great city,” Johnson said of the suspects. “So, we are going to get them.”
The attack occurred after the officers saw someone inside a silver van shooting at another vehicle, according to preliminary information from police.
A vehicle believed to have been used by the offenders was found near 37th street and Racine Avenue and either a rifle or shotgun was also recovered near the scene, according to a source citing preliminary information.
In February, the Chicago Tribune in a front-page article highlighted the gun violence in this part of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The newspaper reported that more than 30 shootings believed to have been tied to semi-automatic rifles occurred there and in neighboring Brighton Park during a recent nine-month period.
At least 46 people were shot in those attacks, 13 fatally.
Police said at the time this was the only area of the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s were regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.
It’s unclear how many of the high-powered rifles were used in the shootings, but police suspected they were being passed around by members of four Hispanic gangs in the Deering police district, which covers Back of the Yards and Brighton Park.
Two of the gangs — La Raza near 47th and Loomis streets and the Almighty Saints near 45th and Wood streets — have been fighting for decades. But the conflict has expanded to the Satan Disciples and Gangster Two-Sixes in neighboring Brighton Park, where violence is less frequent.
Multiple Chicago police vehicles sped to 43rd Street and Ashland Avenue after the shooting.
As an ambulance was seen leaving the scene, a number of officers directed traffic several blocks away from the center of the investigation, due east of an archway that read “Stockyard Industrial Park,” where a fire truck and another Chicago Fire Department vehicle were parked.
As police officers cordoned off the crime scene with a large line of yellow tape spanning a block’s length and a smaller red ribbon in a strip mall parking lot, passersby like Thomas Murdock gawked from a distance.
Murdock, 51, of Little Village, was enjoying a coffee when he heard the gunfire nearby and saw paramedics tending to two officers, at least one of whom was on a stretcher.
“It was like whack-whack-whack. Big guns. Next thing I know I find out police got shot,” Murdock said. “The Dunkin’ Donuts lady was like ‘What the (expletive) are they shooting for?’ My mind was like: ‘Holy s— ! I hope they don’t run in.”’
Minutes later, a fast-moving procession of police vehicles activated their lights and sirens and drove southbound.
At least 11 evidence markers were on 43rd Street just north of the strip mall in the industrial area.
As of about 10:30 p.m. Mayor Rahm Emanuel could be seen briefly outside Stroger Hospital.
In a statement, police said their investigation remains “open and ongoing,” and asked that anyone with information should contact Cook County Crime Stoppers, 1-800-535-STOP (7867). Information may also be emailed to CPDTIP.com.
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