Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson offered up a bit of advice Sunday to the person who shot two officers with an assault rifle last week.
“Please know that whether you’re in Chicago, Charlotte, Los Angeles, you have to spend these next few days consistently, constantly looking over your shoulder, because know this: We are coming to bring you to justice,” Johnson said.
The target of the police manhunt is a 17-year-old member of the La Raza street gang who police say riddled an unmarked police van with dozens of bullets Tuesday evening.
Police believe the shooter mistook the officers for rival gang members, Police Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan said Sunday.
Following the shooting, detectives quickly located and questioned several La Raza street gang members.
“Everybody in the gang at that point knew that these gang members did not shoot rival gang members, they shot officers,” Deenihan said. “At that point these individuals cooperated with us, and we were able to identify the driver and the shooter.”
The alleged driver, Angel Gomez, 18, was arrested last week and confessed to his role in the shooting, Deenihan said. He was charged Saturday with two counts each of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. He is expected in court Monday.
The two officers had responded Tuesday night to a gang shooting near 20th and Halsted in which a member of the La Raza street gang was shot while riding in a black SUV, Deenihan said during a news conference at police headquarters.
The officers knew the occupants of the SUV were gang members. Suspecting they would try to retaliate for the shooting, the officers decided to use a covert police van and tail the group, he said.
“Obviously they’re trying to prevent the next shooting and trying to get some guns off the street,” he said.
The plan quickly fell apart.
“Unfortunately, when that black SUV leaves the location, they realize that they’re being followed by the CPD covert van, and that’s what kind of sets off the events that occur. Phone calls are made,” Deenihan said.
The officers lost sight of the black SUV just after 9 p.m. and were heading back to the police station when a stolen minivan pulled up behind them at a traffic light at 43rd and Ashland in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
As the officers turned at the intersection, people in the minivan “just start firing into this van” from behind, Deenihan said.
A bullet struck the gas tank of the police van, disabling it. As the officers’ van slowed to a halt, the minivan pulled alongside, Deenihan said.
“The door swings open, a high-powered rifle started riddling the covert van with bullets, going through and through,” he said.
Both officers were wounded. One was shot in the arm and hip; the other was hit in the back.
As the minivan sped away, the wounded officers opened fire.
“Even though the officers were injured, they actually removed their weapons and they fired through their windshield at the stolen minivan,” Deenihan said.
The driver and the shooter fled to 38th and Racine in the Bridgeport neighborhood, where they ditched the minivan, which had several flat tires. The shooter ran into a wooded area and buried the assault rifle — hoping to later retrieve it — before both occupants of the minivan ran away, Deenihan said.
A police dog led detectives to the buried assault rifle, Deenihan said.
The injured officers were treated at Stroger Hospital and released Wednesday.
Press conference will be at 1115am for charges against Angel Gomez who drove car that shot assault rifle at officers In this van pic.twitter.com/EhW2rhQTkG— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) May 7, 2017
Johnson ordered photos of the officers’ bullet-riddled van released Sunday to highlight the dangers of the job and the work officers do.
“While our city has experienced profound challenges over the last year, and some want to put a large share of the burden on the backs of these great police officers by implying that they’ve been backing down and pulling back, I have to tell you this, there’s no more dangerous job than you could ask of these officers than to chase bad guys with guns,” Johnson said.
“They say goodbye to their families knowing full well that they may not return,” he said.