Even for the three veteran Chicago police officers, it was a jarring scene to discover: a 35-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the face, lying in a pool of blood on the floor of a West Englewood living room.
She was one of two people wounded in a Tuesday afternoon drive-by shooting in the 7300 block of South Wolcott. A 21-year-old man who was standing outside at the time was also shot in the abdomen and back.
Sgt. Rudy Vargas and officers Rodolfo Farias and Michael Kocanda — all with at least 18 years with the CPD — were among the police who responded to the scene.
Upon arrival, “We didn’t have any idea of the female that was shot,” Vargas told reporters Thursday at the CPD’s Area South headquarters in Pullman.
Once the male victim was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the officers continued canvassing the area for evidence.
“I was looking for anything that didn’t look right, bullets that might have hit a vehicle or a house that our evidence technicians could be able to retrieve,” Farias said.
After following the male victim’s blood trail about a half block north, Farias noticed a bullet hole in the front window of a nearby home. The officers walked up the stairs, knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, but there was no response.
A few dull thumping noises alerted them that someone was inside. Farias then looked through the window and saw someone on the floor, prompting the three to go inside.
The woman, unable to speak, was lying face-down in a pool of blood, her cellphone just out of reach. No one else was in the home at the time. Vargas said the thumping noises may have been the woman convulsing on the floor.
“I was shocked and upset at the same time,” Farias said of the discovery. “It’s a traumatic scene right there. You think about your loved ones, my wife, my kids.”
Given the nature of her injury, the officers didn’t want to move the woman any more than necessary until paramedics could arrived.
It was unseasonably hot that day, too, with temperatures nearing 90 degrees. No air conditioning was on, so the officers grabbed a nearby fan and pointed it at the woman in an effort to comfort her. They also placed a towel under her head and reassured her that help was on the way.
She remained in critical condition at Christ Medical Center as of Thursday afternoon, according to police. No one has been arrested and the investigation remains active.
In the two days that have passed since the shooting, Kocanda has thought a lot about what would have happened if Farias had not noticed the bullet hole in the window.
“I think about that all time,” Kocanda said. “Could she have been there a day? Could she have been there two days? It’s just…I don’t know. Maybe she was praying when we found her.”