Cops shoot Chicago firefighter in Mount Greenwood
BT STEVE METSCH AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters July 11, 2013 2:53PM
Updated: August 13, 2013 6:33AM
An off-duty Chicago firefighter was shot by police officers who thought he was pointing a gun at them Thursday afternoon in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood in what was described as an attempted “suicide by cop.”
The firefighter, who moments earlier had called his wife and told her he “couldn’t take it anymore,” made the sign of the cross, flung open the door of his SUV and got in a crouching position with both hands clutching a black object that he leveled at police officers in the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy at 103rd and Pulaski, said Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police. “The officers at that point opened fire, defending themselves,” Camden said.
The object in his hand was a wallet, Camden said.
The man’s wife had told police that her husband was depressed and had called to tell her he couldn’t “take it anymore,” Camden said. She told police he owned a gun, but she didn’t know if he had it with him.
Police were directed to search for the man at local pharmacies. He had been on medical leave from the fire department for at least a month.
Around 2 p.m. Thursday, police found him reclining in the driver’s seat of a black Ford SUV in a CVS parking lot, according to Camden and a law enforcement source.
An officer approached the SUV and asked to see the man’s hands, Camden said. He had a cellphone in his left hand, but the officer couldn’t see the man’s right hand, Camden said. “Officers said to him, ‘Get out of the car with your hands up! We’ll get you some help!’ ”
As officers backed away, the man sprang into a “combat position,” Camden said. “It’s a classic case, to me, of suicide or attempted suicide by cop.”
As he was being moved to an ambulance with nine or 10 bullet wounds in his torso and limbs, he thanked a police sergeant “for doing what you had to do,” Camden said.
The firefighter, a father of two in his early 50s, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was in critical but stable condition Thursday night. As of 9 p.m., he had been in surgery for four hours.
The wounded firefighter who also was trained as a paramedic, has been with the department since the early 1990s, a source said. He worked out of a fire station on the Southeast Side and lived near the area where he was shot.
He was speaking to doctors and paramedics before heading into surgery, a source said.
No one else was injured in the shooting.
Contributing: Michael Lansu