No bond for two accused of shooting at off-duty sheriff’s officer

SHARE No bond for two accused of shooting at off-duty sheriff’s officer
Mario Orta | photo from Chicago Police

Mario Orta | photo from Chicago Police

Two men accused of firing shots at an off-duty Cook County sheriff’s officer outside a bar in the River West neighborhood early Sunday have been ordered held without bond.

Fernando Lopez and Mario Orta, both 27 years old, face a litany of charges in connection with the shooting about 2:50 a.m. Sunday outside the Funky Buddha Lounge in the 700 block of West Grand Avenue, police said.

Both were ordered held without bond at a hearing Tuesday, and will next appear in court Dec. 15 for a preliminary hearing, according to court records.

Lopez was driving westbound on Grand Avenue when his vehicle struck several parked vehicles near the lounge, according to a police source. When patrons who were standing outside the club started approaching Lopez, he jumped out of his vehicle and fired shots.

The off-duty officer, who had been in a nearby establishment, saw everything, police said. He approached Lopez, announced his office and ordered him to drop the gun, police said.

Lopez then turned toward the officer and pointed his weapon at him, police said.

The officer returned fire, striking the man multiple times, police said.

Lopez was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was in critical condition Monday morning, police said.

After Lopez was shot, he dropped his weapon, police said. While the officer was waiting for assistance and securing him, Orta picked up the gun and fired at least one shot at the officer.

Orta then got in the vehicle Lopez had been driving and sped away, police said. The officer was not injured.

Police said Orta was apprehended a short time later, and that both men are documented gang members.

Lopez, of the 1500 block of West 51st Street, has been charged with aggravated assault to a peace officer with a weapon, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon without a FOID card, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon with a loaded handgun without a concealed carry permit, aggravated discharge of a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm by a street gang member, all felonies, police said.

Orta, of the 2600 block of West 12th Place, faces charges of attempted murder in the first-degree, aggravated discharged of a firearm to a peace officer, aggravated discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a street gang member, all felonies, police said.

Sean Currie, 33, who works at a nearby restaurant, was sitting in the Clover Sports and Leisure Bar next door when someone started banging on the bar’s side door.

As he opened the door and asked, “Why are you banging?” he heard three gunshots. The people outside told him someone was shooting.

Two employees of the Funky Buddha, who declined to give their names, said they heard about seven gunshots, maybe more, right after last call as the patrons were filing out of the bar.

A police officer on the scene said that gang members hang out at the lounge, which he called a “problem child” for the neighborhood in the past.

A shooting was reported in the same block at 3:20 a.m. on Nov. 9, according to the City of Chicago Data Portal.

“Half of us (in the bar) were like, ‘here we go again,’” Currie said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s office confirmed a correctional officer was involved in the shooting, according to spokeswoman Sophia Ansari.

“While this incident is under investigation by the Chicago Police Department, it appears that our officer’s brave actions saved the lives of innocent people,” Ansari said.

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