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Security detail opened fire at carjacker outside Cook County president’s home last week, but details remain sketchy

Neither President Toni Preckwinkle nor other officials would say if anyone was hit by the gunfire outside her Hyde Park home.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.
Sun-Times file photo

A security detail exchanged gunfire with a carjacker outside the Hyde Park home of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle last week, but neither she nor other officials would release details of the attack Thursday, including whether the robber was shot.

The incident occurred on Sept. 27 but was not acknowledged by Chicago police or county officials until this week after the incident was reported by CWB Chicago.

A Forest Preserves police officer was parked outside Preckwinkle’s home on the 5100 block of South Kimbark Avenue when an “armed offender” walked up and opened fire while trying to take the car around 8:30 p.m., according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

The officer then returned fire, the source said. Police were initially told the officer was off duty at the time, the source said.

But the Forest Preserves District, in a brief statement, said the officer is a member of Preckwinkle’s “executive protection detail” and was on duty. The statement said the officer “fired shots during an attempted carjacking” but did not say anything about the carjacker being armed or firing shots.

“For security reasons, we do not disclose any of the operational procedures of the detail,” the statement concluded.

Chicago police released a statement around the same time, but its brief narrative did not identify the person involved as a police officer. And it said nothing about shots being fired by anyone.

The department only said that a “57-year-old male” was sitting in his car “when he was approached by an armed offender on foot who attempted to take the victim’s vehicle. The offender then fled the scene. No injuries were reported at the time of the incident.”

The incident was not reported at the time on the department’s major incident log that is continually updated with major crimes in the city, including carjackings.

The log does include an entry about an 18-year-old man being found with a gunshot wound to the left knee nearly three miles south, at the far end of Jackson Park, around the same time.

CWB reported that police were looking into whether he may have been shot by the Forest Preserves officer.

Preckwinkle’s security detail — a three-person team who each earn more than $100,000 in salary — has been staffed by officers from the Forest Preserves Department of Law Enforcement since 2016. Before, it was staffed by officers from the county’s Department of Emergency Management.

That same year, Preckwinkle faced scrutiny from the county’s inspector general after a county-owned SUV was found abandoned in a ditch the day after the election in south suburban Lemont.

The Chevy Tahoe’s tires had been slashed and Preckwinkle campaign materials were found inside, alongside with a dry cleaning receipt that belonged to the head of her security detail.

Until 2014, Preckwinkle’s security detail had been drawn from officers in the Cook County sheriff’s department, an arrangement that changed after Sheriff Tom Dart complained the officers did not report to his chain of command.