CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - Two 9th District Tactical Officers were wounded when multiple shooters opened fire on them “indiscriminately” late Tuesday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, officials said.
Detectives were questioning “a few” people of interest in the shooting, but a massive manhunt was underway across the South Side, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in a press conference late Tuesday night outside Stroger Hospital, where the officers were being treated. They were expected to survive.
“Make no mistake,” a visibly angered Johnson said. “We will find the people responsible for this.”
Just after 9 p.m., the 9th District officers were in plainclothes while “conducting a follow-up investigation to a previous incident” that happened near 43rd Street and Ashland, Johnson said.
That’s when “one or possibly two vehicles” pulled up, and people inside started shooting at the officers, who were sitting in a van, Johnson said.
One officer was shot in the hip and arm, the other in the back, police said. They were listed in serious condition.
The officers returned fire, Johnson said. It was not known whether they hit anyone.
Multiple weapons were recovered in the area, as well as a vehicle possibly used in the shooting, Johnson said.
The officers, who have not yet been identified, were with their families at the hospital and “doing quite well,” Johnson said.
Hundreds of officers from across the city swarmed the area in the hours after the shooting. Dozens more congregated at the hospital. Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited the officers and their families before leaving about 10:35 p.m.
“We’re praying for the officers and hoping for a full recovery, and we’re praying for all the officers continuing this investigation,” Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th) said outside the hospital. “This act of senseless gun violence . . . shows we need to do something.”
Newly elected Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham also briefly spoke at the press conference. “Our thought and prayers are with them tonight,” he said.
Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said the “continuation of the gang and gun violence that we’ve seen is now hitting home. We’ve seen it impact our children, we’ve seen it impact our families, and now we’re seeing it impact our police department.”
Officers from across the city were scouring “every nook and cranny” in Back of the Yards and into the Canaryville neighborhood, Thompson said. They were looking for multiple suspects, according to Thompson, who said he didn’t know what led up to the shooting.
In an emailed statement, Lopez and Thompson wrote: “We are praying this evening for the two officers shot tonight and their families, and for the safety of those officers who are continuing the search for the offenders.
“We are in close communication with the 9th District Commander and officers, and we urge anyone with any information regarding this shooting to come forward immediately to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to swift justice.
“While the details of this horrific incident remain unclear, what we know for certain is that the gun violence that has terrorized Back of the Yards and communities all across our city must end.”
A witness who declined to give her name said she was waiting for a CTA bus on Ashland when she saw a wave of police cruisers speeding to the scene.
“They weren’t messing around,” she said. “I’ve seen shootings, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Chris Villanueva, 36, said he was walking back to his car in a strip mall parking lot on Ashland, south of the shooting scene, when he heard about a dozen rapid-fire shots.
“I thought it was fireworks maybe, but around here, you hear gunshots a lot,” he said. “Next thing, cops are everywhere.”
The shooting drew a massive police response as detectives investigated just past the entrance to the Old Union Stockyards.