A man climbed five stories of a fire escape to infiltrate a Chicago police facility Monday while officers were undergoing a SWAT training exercise and grabbed at least two guns before he was shot and wounded by police, the chief said.
Police Superintendent David Brown said the suspect was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening. One officer was taken to the hospital with a sprained ankle.
Brown said the suspect was seen on video leaving the facility and then returning to infiltrate it. He asked where to go to retrieve personal property at the facility in Homan Square on Chicago’s West Side. Then he came back to the building and climbed the fire escape to the fifth floor, where a door had been propped open for ventilation because there are no windows on that floor.
Brown said it has not been determined if the man went to the building to retrieve property, saying that the man had an extensive record. It wasn’t immediately clear if property taken from the man was stored in the building.
He had no other information about the man, other than to say he was a resident of Waukegan, a suburb about 42 miles north of Chicago.
Police later said the man is 47.
Brown said investigators believe the man grabbed at least two guns that were on a table during the training exercise and pointed them at officers. He said the guns did not have live ammunition in them, adding that they were either empty or contained munitions, such as pellets that are used for training exercises, because they sting when they strike a person but do not cause serious injury or death. He said he did not know if the man attempted to shoot officers with the guns.
He said the investigation will reveal what officers in the room knew about the guns the suspect took.
Brown speculated on what officers in the training room saw as the man entered the room.
“These were guns that were being watched,” he said. “Obviously, someone coming from a stairwell outside startled everyone. Who is this person? Is this person associated with the training? We do have live actors sometimes who come in plainclothes.”
He also said that it was likely the officers said something to the man when they spotted him, but that, “We just don’t know what the offender said.”
He said most of those taking part in the training were tactical officers assigned to specialized units but that a few of them were uniformed officers assigned to City Hall or to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home.
The officer was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and listed in good condition with the ankle injury. He was not shot, Brown said.
The suspect was initially described as being in critical condition with at least one gunshot wound. Later in the day, Brown said the man’s injuries were not life-threatening. Department spokesman Tom Ahern said the man has been placed under arrest and is under police guard in the hospital because he is a suspect in the incident. He did not know what specific charges he might face.
The shooting is being investigated by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The officer or officers involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for 30 days, the police department said.
The police facility is in a large red brick building that houses evidence and recovered property on the first floor. Some of the police department’s specialized units also work out of the building.
Early Monday afternoon, crime scene tape was stretched across South Homan Avenue a block south of the police station and across the same street just north of the building.
A nearby school was placed on lockdown.
SOURCE: The Associated Press