Chicago, IL – An off-duty Chicago police officer was shot in the head while driving his personally-owned vehicle near police headquarters early Wednesday morning.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson held a press conference on Wednesday but did not release the name of the officer, who remains in critical condition at University of Chicago Medical Center, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“It’s encouraging right now, because he is responding to stimuli. He’s responding to verbal communication, and he actually gave a thumbs up,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on June 26 in the 200-block of East 37th Street in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood, not far from police headquarters, WBBM reported.
Superintendent Johnson said the 25-year-old officer and his female companion were parked when they noticed a four-door black Toyota Corolla or Nissan Altima circling the block.
The superintendent said the officer pulled out into traffic to get out of the area but the suspect vehicle pulled up behind him and someone inside the car opened fire, WBBM reported.
Gunfire blasted out the back window of the officer’s SUV and struck him in the back of the head.
His departing vehicle struck a pole, a tree, and the fence of an elementary school before it stopped, WBBM reported.
Superintendent Johnson said officers patrolling nearby heard the gunfire and responded to the scene. He also said that part of the incident was captured on private surveillance cameras in the area.
Detectives are trying to determine if the off-duty officer was actually the target of the shooting or if it could have been a case of mistaken identity, according to the superintendent.
Superintendent Johnson told reporters that he was personally acquainted with the officer, who is assigned to the Sixth District with his own son, WBBM reported.
He said he had worked with the wounded officer’s father, who retired in October of 2018.
“These are the tough days. I worked with his dad for many years as a patrolman in the 6th. I was a patrolman in the 6th for 10 years, and then went back as a commander, so I have a really good relationship with his father,” the superintendent said. “And then his son comes on the job along with my son, and now they know each other really well, and are working together. So it’s difficult.”
Newly-elected Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot weighed in on the shooting, WBBM reported.
“No parent should ever have to receive the news that their child has been shot and joined the growing ranks of gun violence victims,” Lightfoot said. “Again today our hearts are heavy with the news that an off-duty Chicago police officer was shot and critically injured.”
“As his parents, friends and co-workers hold vigil at his bedside, we must find the will as a community to say enough is enough,” the mayor continued. “We must come together to stem the gun violence that too many residents and neighborhoods know all too well. I ask every Chicagoan to keep all of our victims of gun violence in your prayers and today say a special prayer for the officer, his family, and the Sixth District.”
Police are investigating the shooting but thus far have no suspects, WBBM reported.
This is the second officer from the Sixth District to be shot off-duty in his personal vehicle this year, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago Police Officer John P. Rivera was shot to death in his personal vehicle in the River North neighborhood on March 23.