Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Officer John P. Rivera was shot to death off-duty as he sat in the driver’s seat of a parked car with friends in the River North neighborhood early on Saturday morning.
Officer Rivera, 23, had just finished a shift with the Chicago Police Department during which he helped console the family of a recent murder victim in his district, the Chicago Tribune reported.
He had spent the evening assigned to the beat car in the Gresham District on the city’s South Side and worked most of the evening on a murder investigation.
Officer Rivera finished up the paperwork on the homicide and finished work between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., according to the Chicago Tribune.
After he got off duty, he went to a nightclub with some friends, one of whom was also a Chicago police officer. It’s not known to which nightclub the group went.
Officer Rivera and his friends were sitting in a car parked in the 700-block of North Clark Street at about 3:30 a.m. on March 23 when two unknown gunmen approached the vehicles, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Both men opened fire on the vehicle and Officer Rivera and the driver’s side back- seat passenger were struck multiple times.
Police said the attackers fled on foot from the scene.
Officer Rivera was shot in the mouth, chest, and right arm, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The other wounded passenger, also a 23-year-old man, was shot in the chest and the arm.
Both men were transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Officer Rivera was pronounced dead at about 3:50 a.m., the Chicago Tribune reported.
The other man was listed in critical condition but was expected to survive his wounds.
The other two people in the car, one of whom was a Chicago police officer with about the same amount of time on the police force as Officer Rivera, were not injured, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“They were all friends going out to have a good time,’’ Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
Officer Rivera had been a member of the police force for two years, and loved his job, according to the superintendent.
Superintendent Johnson, who was returning from Dubai where he attended the 12th International Symposium for Police Best Practices at the time of the shootings, said he received a call about the murder from his son, who is also a Chicago police officer, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“My son rode with this kid several times. It’s going to be difficult for them over in the 6th District,” the superintendent said.
He called Officer Rivera a “hard worker who loved going out on patrol,’’ and said the young officer was “very excited’’ and “very eager” to serve the citizens of Chicago as a police officer, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio held a press conference on Saturday morning to address the murder.
Deputy Superintendent Riccio said the police were unaware of any altercations or interactions that might have sparked the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“It’s a very fresh investigation,’’ he said.
Deputy Superintendent Riccio said nothing precipitated the ghastly event - “no problems, no words were exchanged, no robbery demand, no carjacking demand.”
Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi called the attack a “devastating incident,’’ and said investigators were questioning “persons of interest,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
“It’s a very sad day, we’re mourning the loss of yet another Chicago police officer,’’ a Chicago police union spokesman told reporters. “And yet, we're going out there later today.”
Superintendent Johnson said that so far, there was no indication that shooters were aware the people in the car they targeted were police officers.
Officer Rivera lived in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the far South Side of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chicago Police Officer John P. Rivera, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Rivera, your life mattered.