Police Commander Paul Bauer, 53, was shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon in downtown Chicago after he pursued a man on foot who matched a radio description of an armed suspect being tracked by officers.
Bauer was shot multiple times after he “saw the offender and engaged in an armed physical confrontation,” Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
Johnson was holding back his tears as he gave his statement to reporters outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where the commander — who served 31 years on the force — was announced dead.
Via CBS News: The shooting occurred near the James R. Thompson Center, the state government office building. Johnson said officers initially confronted the suspect because he was acting suspiciously. Police captured the man a short time later, and a gun was recovered at the scene, he said.
Initial reports said Bauer was off-duty when he was shot, but the top spokesperson for Chicago police tweeted a correction late Tuesday night:
Important clarification: CPD Commander Paul Bauer was on duty when he was murdered this afternoon. Initial reports from the scene of him being off duty were incorrect and updated.
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 14, 2018
He added that Chicago police would be escorting Bauer’s daughter to school from now on.
Early media reports said the suspect may have been involved in the robbery of a local business, but Johnson did not provide details about what the man was doing that prompted officers to want to speak with him.
Witnesses told CBS Chicago officers warned residents to get off the streets shortly after shots were fired, and began blocking off the streets and entrances to the Thompson Center.
“They actually had us locked in Walgreens,” one eyewitness said. “They taped it off, so we couldn’t get out. Just for a minute, and then they all hopped in their cop cars, and they all went south on Clark.”
Others said they heard gunshots.
“I was walking down the street and I heard ‘pop pop pop pop pop,”‘ said Noreen Danko who offices in a nearby building. “And I said to the girl next to me, ‘Is that what I think it is?’ And she said ‘Yep.’ I said ‘Aw geez.’ And everybody is scurrying all over and I see the police head to the stairs there. There’s a stairwell there. And it goes downstairs. I heard that the door is locked there. It used to be a pedway, but now, for security reasons they have it locked.”
She told the paper she saw officers lead the shackled suspect away and put him in a squad car, and then watched as emergency workers administered CPR to Bauer, who was lying on a stretcher, before he was put inside an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.
“I just ask the citizens of this city to keep the Bauer family in their prayers,” Johnson said before he turned and left the briefing.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered his condolences, too, calling Bauer’s death “a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all.”