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Three questioned after two CPD officers shot in Back of the Yards

Two Chicago Police officers were shot in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in May. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Investigators were questioning three “people of interest,” after two Chicago police officers — including the son of a deputy chief — were wounded when multiple shooters opened fired on them “indiscriminately” late Tuesday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, officials said.

One officer was hit in the arm and hip; the other, injured more seriously, was shot in the back. Both, however, are expected to survive, police said Wednesday morning.

Police are especially concerned because the officers were in an unmarked van conducting a gang investigation, and appeared to have been followed and targeted, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. The weapon used was an AR-15, a high-powered rifle.

After the shooting, a massive manhunt was launched across the South Side, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in a press conference Tuesday night outside Stroger Hospital, where the officers were being treated. They were expected to survive. Investigators had recovered two guns. The shooters used “high powered” weapons, officials said.

“Make no mistake,” a visibly angered Johnson said. “We will find the people responsible for this.”

Multiple security cameras are in place around the intersection where the shooting occurred, near 43rd Street and Ashland Avenue.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks late Tuesday night at a press conference outside Stroger Hospital, where the officers were being treated. They were expected to survive. “Make no mistake,” a visibly angered Johnson said. “We will find the people responsible for this.” | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Just after 9 p.m., the officers were in plainclothes while “conducting a follow-up investigation to a previous incident” that happened near that intersection, Johnson said.
That’s when “one or possibly two vehicles” pulled up, and people inside started shooting at the officers, who were sitting in a van, Johnson said.

One officer was shot in the hip and arm, the other in the back, police said. They were listed in serious condition.

The officers returned fire, Johnson said. It was unknown whether they hit anyone.

Multiple weapons were recovered in the area, as well as a vehicle possibly used in the shooting, Johnson said.

The officers, who have not yet been identified, were with their families at the hospital and “doing quite well,” Johnson said.

“It’s a miracle the officers are still alive,” Guglielmi said Wednesday morning.

The vehicle the officers were in was “riddled with bullets” from what police believe was a high powered rifle, he added.

Both officers were still in stable condition Wednesday morning, Giglielmi said.

TV news trucks are about the only sign of Tuesday night’s shooting near 43rd Street and Ashland Avenue. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Hundreds of officers from across the city had swarmed the area in the hours after the shooting. Dozens more congregated at the hospital. Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited the officers and their families before leaving about 10:35 p.m.

“We’re praying for the officers and hoping for a full recovery, and we’re praying for all the officers continuing this investigation,” Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th) said outside the hospital. “This act of senseless gun violence . . . shows we need to do something.”

Newly elected Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham also briefly spoke at the press conference. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them tonight,” he said.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said the “continuation of the gang and gun violence that we’ve seen is now hitting home. We’ve seen it impact our children, we’ve seen it impact our families, and now we’re seeing it impact our police department.”

Officers from across the city were scouring “every nook and cranny” in Back of the Yards and into the Canaryville neighborhood, Thompson said. They were looking for multiple suspects, according to Thompson, who said he didn’t know what led up to the shooting.

In an emailed statement, Lopez and Thompson wrote: “We are in close communication with the 9th District Commander and officers, and we urge anyone with any information regarding this shooting to come forward immediately to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to swift justice.

“While the details of this horrific incident remain unclear, what we know for certain is that the gun violence that has terrorized Back of the Yards and communities all across our city must end.”

Chris Villanueva, 36, said he was walking back to his car in a strip mall parking lot on Ashland, south of the shooting scene, when he heard about a dozen rapid-fire shots.

“I thought it was fireworks maybe, but around here, you hear gunshots a lot,” he said. “Next thing, cops are everywhere.”

A woman who declined to give her name said she was waiting for a CTA bus on Ashland when she saw a wave of police cruisers speeding to the scene.

“They weren’t messing around,” she said. “I’ve seen shootings, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Contributing: Jacob Wittich