Hero Down: Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer Murdered
Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer was murdered in the line of duty on Tuesday afternoon in a stairwell of James R. Thompson Center, also known as the state of Illinois building, in downtown Chicago.
At about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, 1st District tactical officers were on routine patrol when they observed somebody behaving in a suspicious manner, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a very brief press conference Tuesday evening.
The tactical officers tried to engage the suspicious individual in conversation, and he fled. The officers lost sight of the suspect, and put out an alert.
“Tactical officers put a description over the radio. Commander Paul Bauer – the 18th District – was in the vicinity and he heard the radio transmission,” Superintendent Johnson said.
“He observed the offender, and engaged them, and physical confrontation – armed physical confrontation - ensued. Commander Bauer was shot multiple times. Unfortunately, Commander Bauer passed away,” the superintendent said, while obviously struggling to keep his composure.
WLS-TV reported that Commander Bauer, 53, was found in the stairwell of the government building, and that he had been shot twice in the head.
Commander Bauer, a 31-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), was taken to Northwestern Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“The offender is in custody, the weapon is recovered, and I just ask the citizens of the city to keep the Bauer family in their prayers. I’ll be meeting with his wife and daughter. It’s a difficult day for us,” the superintendent finished, and left without taking any questions.
The Chicago Tribune published a description of police radio traffic in the moments leading up to, and immediately after, the high-ranking police officer’s death.
At the beginning of the chase, an officer was heard saying over the radio that he had tried to stop the suspect but he took off running.
"He took off, he was running from me, we just had a shooting the other day," the officer radioed the dispatcher.
The tactical officer described the suspect as wearing a long black coat with a fur collar, last seen running south on Dearborn Street.
Within a minute, an officer – assumed to be Commander Bauer – radioed the dispatcher that he had spotted the man.
He told a dispatcher he was near Clark and Lake Streets, “State of Illinois building towards City Hall,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
The newspaper reported that was the officer’s last transmission.
The dispatcher called the officer repeatedly for several minutes, but got no reply.
Then the tactical officer who had radioed the initial description came over the radio saying “Don’t anybody get hurt. We just wanted to do a street stop on him and he took off on me. But he was in the area where we’ve had a lot of narcotics sales and a shooting on Saturday.”
"I understand, but somebody else is following him and we want to make sure we get him help,” the dispatcher replied.
Then another officer radioed the dispatcher to say they’d found the suspect, and had him in custody. He told dispatch that they found a gun on the suspect.
“We have a person shot in the stairwell. Possibly related to the guy we were chasing at the State of Illinois building,” the tactical officer radioed to the dispatcher.
“OK, is that an off-duty PO [police officer]?” the dispatcher asked.
“There’s a radio laying next to him. Oh s**t. Squad, I need somebody over here ASAP. It is,” the tactical officer confirmed.
“We have a 10-1, we have an off-duty shot. We have units on the scene,” the dispatcher said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The commander was at Thompson Center attending a training session, police said.
Commander Bauer joined the Chicago Police in 1986 and worked in multiple neighborhoods and a variety of divisions throughout his career, including the specialized mounted patrol unit.
A longtime commander of the Chicago Police Mounted Patrol Unit, the commander led the officers that helped maintain crowds when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013.
As commander of the high-profile Near North District, he was very interactive with the community, and publicly spoke about the frustration he felt about the “high bar to prosecution” for repeat offenders, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” Commander Bauer told the Loop North News in November 2017. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”
He was well known to residents of the 18th District, and hosted popular "coffee with the commander" stops around the area. Another coffee stop was planned for next week, WMAQ-TV reported.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement that said Commander Bauer "stood for the highest ideals of our police department and our city - to serve and protect the people of Chicago."
"The hearts of every Chicagoan are heavy as we mourn the loss of Commander Paul Bauer," the statement read.
Commander Bauer is survived by his wife and daughter.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Commander Paul Bauer, your life mattered.