One evening last November, Chicago Police officers Thomas Surma and Ursula Karcz were sitting in their police vehicle in West Garfield Park when Richard Grimes, 33, spotted them and fired his handgun. A bullet grazed Surma’s head.
Despite narrowly escaping a blow to his head, Surma called for backup and chased after Grimes, who fled on foot. The shooter had just shot his pregnant girlfriend in the abdomen, killing her and their unborn child.
Four additional officers quickly arrived on the scene, setting up a perimeter around a gangway in the 4500 block of West Washington Street, where Grimes had taken cover. He again shot at the officers, who returned fire, striking him fatally.
“My CPD training just kicked in,” Surma said. “The suspect had just tried taking my life and there’s no way I could just let him run the streets, because obviously he was a threat to myself and to the general public.”
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On Tuesday, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honored Surma and the four CPD officers who responded to the call for backup: Sean Najm, Miles Furlet, Monica Calixto and Sgt. Curtis Wallace. The foundation named the four “officers of the month” for December.
After the 2016 incident, Surma was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with injuries that were not life-threatening. He was later promoted to sergeant and is currently attending classes for the new position.
Wallace, one of the honored officers, commended Surma and the others for their swift response. “These officers did an outstanding job and because of all of them we all made it out alive,” he said.
During a ceremony at the Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union on Tuesday, each officer received a glass award for the “Officer of the Month” distinction and family members were presented with memorial foundation hats.
Former CPD Supt. Phil Cline, executive director of the foundation, said Tuesday: “At a time of record crime in the city, these men and women exemplify the actions of many officers who when faced with danger, run toward it to stop the violence, bring criminals to justice, and remove dangerous weapons from the street.”