Tinley Park officer lauded for nabbing suspects
By Matthew Bruce Corresondent June 6, 2012 10:36PM
Updated: July 8, 2012 7:00PM
Tinley Park Police Sgt. Lori Mason was on her way home when she heard an unusual call on her radio — reports of 18 masked and hooded men attacking patrons at the Ashford House restaurant.
That’s when Mason, who had just finished her shift directing traffic near the Convention Center, began patrolling the area. Within minutes she apprehended five suspects. She was honored for her actions with a certificate of recognition during Tuesday’s village board meeting.
“It wasn’t a normal type of call,” she said Tuesday. “It was just like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening in Tinley.’ Just listening to the call coming up, and then your adrenaline starts going. And you start relying on your backup skills and what you’ve learned to try to find stuff.”
The May 19 attack at the Ashford House, 7959 W. 159th St., drew national headlines as a mob of bat-wielding assailants filed into the restaurant about 12:30 p.m. and assaulted a group of diners in the banquet room. Ten people were injured in the melee, which officials have said was carried out by an anti-racism faction targeting a group it believed to have white supremacist connections.
The mob left the restaurant in three cars, according to police reports. One of those vehicles, which 911 callers reported to dispatchers, was a red Dodge Neon.
Mason said she was just pulling out of the Tinley Park police station, 7850 W. 183rd St., when she initially heard the calls to be on the lookout for the vehicles. She headed northbound on Harlem Avenue and spotted a red Neon passing McDonald’s near 172nd Street going southbound.
“I saw the (car); I saw five people smashed into a red Neon, and I turned around,” she said.
Mason said she pulled the car over near 183rd Street, and held the suspects there until backup officers arrived within seconds to assist in the arrests.
The five men, all from Indiana, have been charged with mob action, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. They are John Tucker, 26, Martinsville; Cody Sutherlin, 23 and Alex Stuck, 22, both of Bloomington; and Dylan Sutherlin, 20, and Jason Sutherlin, 33, both of Gosport.
Officials commended Mason for her actions, citing her “attention to duty, courage and professionalism.”
Police Chief Steve Neubauer said the crime would have been nearly impossible to solve without the immediate arrest that Mason initiated.
“Too often, we hear the negative sides of police stories,” Mayor Ed Zabrocki said. He also noted the village’s take-home squad car program played a role in the arrest. Mason, who was off duty, was driving her Chevy Impala squad car and was alerted to be on the lookout by police dispatchers.
“If she did not have that car, she would not have had that information,” he said.