By Jeremy Gorner, Meredith Rodriguez and Peter Nickeas
8:43 AM CDT, March 10, 2014
A Chicago police officer was released from the hospital this morning, hours after a bullet fragment struck him in the head as officers served a search warrant in the Calumet Heights neighborhood, authorities said.
The tactical officer was hit between the eyes around 8:45 p.m. Sunday when someone opened fire inside a home in the 2700 block of east 92nd Street and the bullet ricocheted off a piece of wood, police said. No officer returned fire and six people at the home were taken in for questioning.
The 34-year-old officer, a veteran of 11 years, was taken by his partner to Advocate Trinity Hospital, where he was alert and able to speak to officers and family members, police said. He was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and released early this morning, police said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, speaking at Northwestern, said a fragment of the bullet lodged in his forehead. "He's a little dazed. He got hit pretty hard in the head, but his spirits are good," McCarthy said. "We were joking around a bit."
The officer was part of a tactical team that was serving a narcotics search warrant. As they approached the house, some officers went around the back as other went to the front of the home, a source said. The officers in the back recognized the target of the search warrant through a window, the source said.
The officers entered the home and headed for the basement, where the subject of the warrant was known to live, according to a statement from the police department. "As the team entered the residence, an offender fired one round in the officers' direction," the statement said.
Everyone in the home was taken into custody, authorities said, and a gun believed used in the shooting was recovered.
Sunday's shooting occurred nearly two years after another South Chicago District tactical officer, Del Pearson, was shot in the chest while chasing a suspect wanted on a curfew violation. Pearson also was driven in a squad car by fellow officers to nearby Trinity Hospital before transferred by ambulance to another hospital. He survived his injuries.
At the scene Sunday night, a swarm of police vehicles -- including a police command van, a forensics services vehicle and several K-9 units -- were scattered along 92nd Street. Dozens of officers -- uniformed, plainclothes and detectives -- stood along the street and outside the two-story frame home, which sat between two 1½-story brick buildings.
Two neighbors in a row of apartments on Anthony Avenue, just north of 92nd Street, cracked their screen doors and poked their heads out to learn what happened. One woman, who recently moved to the neighborhood, had her son on the phone reading a news article to her about the incident.
One man driving home pulled up near the yellow tape and asked if he could drive through. "I stay right here on this block right here," he shouted before parking his car outside the tape.
Charles Tarr, who lives in an apartment across the street from the home, didn't know about the shooting until he noticed all the police activity.
"I knew it was something major," he told reporters outside his apartment. "I thought that they was actually looking for like a fugitive or somebody on the run. . .a chase or something like that. I didn't know that the police had got shot at first. I was like, 'Why are all these police out here?' "
Tarr said he talked to another officer after the shooting who told him about the wounded cop. "He had told me that the police officer was just doing his job," said Tarr.
About 11:45 p.m., a Chicago Fire Department truck pulled up to the scene so police could use its ladder to search the attic of the house.
At Trinity, meanwhile, the ambulance carrying the wounded officer the 12 miles to Northwestern was initially escorted by several marked and unmarked squad cars.
As the ambulance moved through downtown and north of the Chicago River, dozens of police cars descended down the Columbus Drive bridge, mostly silent, after being ordered to cut their sirens by a supervisor because the convoy was approaching Northwestern.
The ambulance was behind three police cars and followed by dozens more. Cars from the Near North Police District staffed intersections along the route. "Eighteenth District units, put all your closures into effect," a supervisor ordered over the radio.
The cars moved into the intersection and cut off traffic. A tanker truck skidded to a halt at Illinois Street as it pulled into a left-turn lane but was cut off by an officer.
"Have all the units shut off their sirens, we're close to a hospital," a supervisor ordered. The dispatcher repeated the command: "For those units approaching the hospital, I need you to shut off your sirens."
As a family scurried through a crosswalk to get across Columbus, an officer yelled, "Get off the street!"
Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributed to this report.
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