Two Chicago police officers chasing a man with a gun were killed in a “devastating tragedy” when they were struck by a train Monday evening on the Far South Side, police said — bringing the total number of officers killed in the line of duty in 2018 to four.
The incident Monday unfolded shortly after 6 p.m., police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference.
The officers responded to a ShotSpotter notification of shots fired at 101st Street and Dauphin Avenue, Johnson said. When the officers arrived they confronted the suspect, who ran up to the train tracks at 103rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, police said.
At 6:20 p.m., while they were chasing the suspect on foot, they were struck by eastbound train No. 119, which had left Millennium Station at 5:58 p.m., according to Metra spokeswoman Sylvia Cooper.
The officers were dead at the scene.
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Johnson identified the officers as Eduardo Marmolejo, 36, and Conrad Gary, 31. Marmolejo had been with the department for two and a half years, and Gary had been an officer 18 months. Both were fathers.
Police said they were questioning a person of interest and that a weapon was recovered. The person was not immediately identified.
Just before dawn on Tuesday, a procession to deliver their bodies to the morgue turned the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway into a sea of blue-and-red lights. Police squad cars and Chicago Fire Department ambulances traveled with the remains for about an hour as officers grieved for their fallen comrades.
There were 500 to 600 passengers on the train when the officers were hit, according to Mike Noland, a spokesman for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the line. Trains are allowed to go as fast as 65 miles per hour in the zone where the collision occurred, but officials said it was unclear how fast the train was traveling.
There were no reported injuries on the train, Noland said.
Passengers could be seen getting off the train hours after the incident late Monday and taken to waiting CTA buses.
Norton Williams, 44, said he was on his way to a night shift at work when the train suddenly came to a halt.
Williams said passengers didn’t know what was going on until they started reading the news on their phones a little later. The initial reaction for most was shock.
“I felt sorry for the families,” said Williams, of Dolton, who was stuck on the train for almost three hours. “I think they were younger guys too. There’s always a tragedy like this this time of year, and you just think about the families.”
After the collision, all power was shut down on the Metra Electric District Line from 69th Street to 115th Street.
In the hours after the officers’ deaths, dozens of Chicago police officers — some on duty, most in street clothes — flocked to Marmolejo’s home in West Beverly, where they lined the sidewalk.
No one appeared home at Conrad’s house nearby. Reached by phone, a relative declined to comment.
The Calumet District (5th), where the two officers worked, has had an especially rough year. Two Calumet officers died by suicide in the parking lot of the station, which is in Pullman, and another had a heart attack while working in the station.
“This has been an immensely difficult year for the Chicago Police Department,” Johnson said, “especially for the men and women of the Fifth District, where they have faced tragedy after tragedy this year. So I’m asking all of you, Chicago, to pray for the families of these two heroic young men, and please say a prayer for the men and women of the Fifth District, who even tonight will still stop at nothing to safeguard their community.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the officers: “There they were responding to ShotSpotter, doing their job, trying to protect the rest of us. We’ve lost two young men, both fathers with young families. This holiday will never be the same for those two families. And while our hearts are with them, we lost people who answered the call to make Chicago a better place.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham noted that the deaths came weeks after Officer Samuel Jimenez was shot to death at Mercy Hospital.
“This tragedy comes just after the loss of another officer who was murdered trying to stop a gunman,” Graham said. “This terrible tragedy is another grim reminder of the dangers police officers face each and every day to protect the public.”
This was the first incident of on-duty officers being killed by a train since 2002, when Officer Benjamin Perez was killed while on a drug stakeout near a railroad trestle in the Marquette Park district on the Southwest Side.
Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson, Carlos Ballesteros, Frank Main, Nader Issa