A veteran off-duty Chicago police officer was shot twice early Monday during an attempted robbery outside his car as a young child sat inside, authorities said.
While the 34-year-old officer sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist, his wounds did not appear to be life-threatening, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.
The officer's wrist was broken, but the bullet that struck his chest inflicted only superficial damage, the superintendent said. Later, police said the officer's left wrist was the one injured, and his shooting hand was not harmed.
"He's obviously shaken up, [but] he's in good spirits," McCarthy said this morning, after visiting the officer at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. "Right now it's as good as it could possibly be."
Police are looking for a suspect described as a male hispanic who is about 5-foot-8 inches tall, between 25 and 30 years old and with a hairstyle that is short on the side with a fade on top, police said. Police believe the suspect may have fled in a small or mid-sized silver four door car, police said. The robbery does not appear to fit any recent robbery patterns in the area, police said.The wounded officer has been with Chicago Police Department since 2002.
The officer was one of about 70 award recipients at the department's annual recognition ceremony last month, earning the Superintendent's Award of Valor for fatally shooting a knife-wielding man who threatened to kill three children.
According to a news release announcing the award, a "man with a knife" call was dispatched, stating a person was threatening to kill three children inside an apartment building.
Responding officers broke a ground-floor window while the officer - wounded this morning - went to the second floor. He then entered one of the units and forced his way into a bedroom, when he saw a man holding a knife to one of the children and restraining the others with his legs. "In fear of the safety of the children, the officer fired his weapon, fatally striking the offender," the release stated.
The release did not state when or where the incident occurred.
The officer is assigned to the South Side’s Englewood police district, working the afternoon shift, according to the district's commander Leo Schmitz.
"He's one of my best officers, hardworking (and) always everybody's friend on the watch," said Schmitz. "He's always busy and doing the right thing."
The shooting happened about 12:30 a.m. in the 6300 block of South Nashville Avenue, police said.
The officer had just parked his car and was preparing to take his child out of a car seat when the attacker approached, police said.
Within an hour or two after the shooting, about two dozen off-duty officers who work with the wounded cop on his shift were at the hospital to support him and his family, said Schmitz.
"He's one of the friendliest guys you'd ever want to meet," he said.
The officer, who was off-duty at the time, fired in self-defense and may have struck his attacker, McCarthy said.
Early reports suggested the officer's wrist had sustained significant damage in the shooting, said the law enforcement source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Squad cars combed the area after the shooting, but police did not immediately take anyone into custody.
Despite some reports that police were looking for multiple suspects, police were searching for a single attacker, the law enforcement source said.
Police were reviewing video footage and robbery patterns in the area in hopes of identifying a suspect, McCarthy said.
"We're going to catch the guy [who did this]," the superintendent said. "We're going to hold them accountable."
Several family members joined the officer in the hospital after the shooting, the superintendent said. The officer, whose name has not been released, also received a visit from Rev. Daniel J. Brandt, the police department's chaplain.
"I'll say this: God is good," Brandt said afterward. "It could have been a lot worse."
More than a dozen police vehicles responded to the area of the shooting, including a mobile command unit and squad cars from neighboring Oak Lawn.
As they stood across the street from the cordoned-off shooting site, neighbors awakened by the commotion said they had heard about a half a dozen gunshots.
A couple that lives nearby said the officer lives in the neighborhood and had been returning from work.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said to the wounded officer Monday morning.
“I want to report that he's in good spirits, in a good mood. We had a very good conversation and he's eager to get back to work,” Emanuel said.
Tribune reporter John Byrne contributed to this report.