While we were on our way to breakfast, after a long and boring midnight shift, the dispatcher broadcasted a woman stabbed at Montrose and Cicero. My partner Pete and I responded. Pulling into a gas station on the corner, we observed a woman laying on the filthy floor inside the gas station. Reporting that the incident was bonafide, we requested assistance. Determining that she was stabbed in the chest and groin, we immediately requested an ambulance and tried to comfort her. The station attendant was now complaining about the customers having to walk around this woman to pay for their gas. He demanded that we remove her from in front of the register. I went outside and shut down the gas station. Assist units arrived and blocked the entrances to the station, except for the responding emergency personnel. We interviewed the young lady and she explained that she was robbed at the Montrose El station. The person who robbed and stabbed her also stabbed a man who came to her assistance. We broadcasted all the available information and after the paper-car (squad car assigned the job) was briefed, we rushed over to the Montrose El station to find a man down with two stab wounds to his chest. Collecting more information, my partner broadcasted that the offenders were five male blacks, dressed in varying colors of sweat-shirts and sweat-pants. The stabber was dressed in a red jogging suit. After the stabbing, they ran south down side streets on the west side of the Kennedy Expressway. Pete and I assumed that they would try and get back on the El going south. Our hunch paid off. We drove onto the Kennedy and observed three male blacks standing on the Irving Park platform, one dressed in all red. I pulled the squad onto the inner median and while Pete broadcast our situation on the radio, I exited the car shouting commands to the three offenders waiting for the El train. They were on the far end of the platform, away from the other commuters. Standing about fifty feet from them, I ordered them to lie down and show me their hands. Ignoring my commands, they began to run toward an approaching train and a group of commuters. Fearing that they would make good on their escape on the El train, I fired a round at the stabber, missing him. A second round also missed its target. As I was lining up my third shot, I could see the panicked faces of at least a hundred commuters that the offender ran in front of. I withheld the next shot. But, the shots fired caused the offenders to run past the stopping El train and descend the stairs into the waiting hands of police responding to Pete’s radio instructions. Jumping back in to the squad, we soon skid to a stop under the Irving Park El platform. I informed my sergeant that I had shot at one offender. I further explained that the two errant rounds probably struck the side of a three flat just east of the El station which was immediately broadcast and notifications were made. The Watch Commander was on his way as well as detectives and the on duty Street Deputy. For me the day had just begun.
Three offenders were captured at the Irving Park El Station and two others were taken off the train at the Belmont stop by officers of the 14th District. Investigation revealed that the five offenders rode the El throughout the night on the north side committing seven reported robberies, all while drinking and smoking marijuana. With the last robbery, they became more brazen and almost killed two people. They stabbed the woman deliberately in the breasts and the groin after becoming angry over how little cash she had on her. The man who had come to her rescue was taken directly into surgery which saved his life. Three millimeters more to one side and his heart would have had a hole in it.
After the dust settled, I did a “walk-through” with the Watch Commander showing him where I was when I fired the two shots relative to where my target was. I explained the necessity of choosing to use my weapon to stop the primary offender. Once on the train he could have jumped off at any time and made good on his escape. I explained that I refrained from taking a third shot when it became apparent that it may have endangered commuters. Furthermore, I described how I personally interviewed both victims and I had an absolute identification of the person who committed the stabbing. I told him I understood that, minimally I had an armed robbery, aggravated battery, and, possibly, a homicide. The Watch Commander agreed with my overall assessment of the situation and declared all my actions adhered to department rules and regulations and Illinois state law.
The Deputy arrived on the scene and interviewed me about my actions regarding shooting at the suspect. We again did a walk-through and I explained the locations of the offenders compared to my vantage point. I had the side of a brick apartment building as a backstop for the rounds that did not find their target. I had a personal and positive identification of the person responsible for an armed robbery and 2 stabbings, both victims in critical condition. I stressed that if the offender made good on his escape, there was a very good chance he would never be brought to justice. The Deputy disagreed with me and out of the blue asked me if I shot at this offender because he was black. I was stunned and speechless. With five years experience on the police department and a couple of them working a Chicago Housing Project, I was appalled at this question. The politically correct Deputy did not believe that I had enough information on the person responsible for stabbing our two victims. He initiated a U-Number, an internal investigation on why I fired my weapon.
Officer Pete and all the assisting officers, including myself, were showered with accolades for the fine police work in assisting two critically injured robbery/aggravated battery victims. This included the quick apprehensions of five offenders who committed about a dozen robberies throughout the night. All in all, it was very good police work.
As to the investigation, the day the Deputy initiated it was the last day I heard about it.