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Two Chicago Police officers die when struck by South Shore train

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By The Associated Press

and Tribune Staff

Two Chicago police officers were fatally struck by an eastbound South Shore commuter train as they investigated a report of gunshots on the city’s far South Side.

Eduardo Marmolejo, 37, and Conrad Gary, 31, were pursuing a person heading toward the train tracks when they were hit shortly after 6 p.m. Monday as the South Shore train passed through the area, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. Police said the officers were chasing the suspect on foot.

The accident occurred on Metra line tracks--which the South Shore uses in Illinois--near 103rd Street, just north of the Kensington station, and involved Train 119.

Johnson said that, because there was no stop at that location, the South Shore train was probably traveling at a speed of 60 to 70 miles per hour.

The CPD now believes that the two officers likely didn't see or hear a train that fatally struck them as they pursued the suspect because they were looking at a train approaching from another direction, based on footage recovered from the body camera worn by one of the officers.

That video shows the officers “clearly acknowledge” a northbound train just before they were hit by a southbound South Shore train. The CPD said that the noise made by the northbound train likely made it impossible for the officers to hear the South Shore train.

Johnson said an individual was taken into custody and a weapon was recovered. He said the investigation was still in the early stages and that more details would be released later.

Marmolejo had been with the department for 2 1/2 years and Gary for 18 months, Johnson said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also spoke at the news conference, said the city had lost “two young men, both fathers with young families.”

“There are no words that can express the grief, the sense of loss. It just knocks you back on your heels,” he said.

NICTD

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District--which operates the South Shore line--released the following statement early this morning: “The team at the South Shore line sends our deepest condolences to the families of the two Chicago Police Department officers who lost their lives. Our hearts go out to the entire CPD family. Heartfelt thanks to Metra and CTA for helping move our passengers and to all emergency responders involved.”

Following the accident, Monday evening’s remaining schedule of South Shore train service was canceled: four westbound trains and five eastbound, NICTD spokesperson Nicole Barker told the Chesterton Tribune. This morning the “active crime scene investigation” was creating “residual delays” of 10 to 15 minutes but all trains but one were on the move and “the commute is going well,” Barker said. She did add that eastbound Train 203 (departing Millennium at 6:10 a.m.) was canceled, with Train 205 (departing Millennium at 6:48 a.m.) taking its place.

Immediately after the accident, the CPD held Train 119 in place, with some 500 passengers aboard, as officers began their investigation. Passengers were not finally released--on the powerless train--until sometime after 10 p.m., when Metra provided a bus bridge. “We were trying to provide the passengers with water and keep them comfortable,” Barker said. As of 8:30 a.m. today Train 119 was still on the scene.

Chicago police use ShotSpotter technology, or sensors that monitor for the sound of gunfire and alert police. Johnson said the two officers went to the scene Monday after a ShotSpotter alert went out.

“It just highlights again how dangerous this job can be. I often say that the most dangerous thing a police officer can do is take a weapon off of an armed individual,” Johnson said.

In 2002, Chicago police officer Benjamin Perez was fatally struck by a commuter train while conducting surveillance on narcotics activity on the city’s West Side.

Two other Chicago officers besides Marmolejo and Gary were killed in the line of duty this year.

Officer Samuel Jimenez was killed in a shootout last month after he chased a gunman inside a hospital on Chicago’s South Side . The shooter also killed two other people - his ex-fiancee who was an emergency room doctor and a pharmacy resident - before taking his own life.

And in February, Cmdr. Paul Bauer was fatally shot while pursuing a suspect in the Loop business district.

“I think it’s really important that we put our arms around the Chicago Police Department and hold them up and support them at this critical juncture, because we are so dependent on their professionalism and their sense of duty,” Emanuel said Monday night.

 

Posted 12/18/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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