An off-duty Illinois Sheriff’s police investigator was shot and killed on Friday night while he attempted to save his daughter and her boyfriend from an attempted robbery. They were just outside a Christmas party that was being held in suburban Chicago, stated authorities.
Bellwood Cook County Police Investigator Cuauhtémoc Estrada, age 50, was hosting the party at the VFW Post 5081, located near the 200 block of 30th Street, in the western part of Bellwood, Illinois.
Various family members stated that Estrada stepped out to the parking lot and saw two people in ski masks and hoodies attempting to rob his daughter and the boyfriend at gunpoint as the two young people were carrying food from one of the cars. Estrada had a large gun on his person at the time.
Shots were exchanged about 7:30 p.m. when the police officer attempted to stop the attempted robbery.
He ended up being shot in the chest while he attempted to reach his weapon. However, it was not clear if Estrada had a service firearm or a private one.
Witnesses on the scene stated that the two suspects took off from the crime scene. They were still at large as of Saturday afternoon even though leads have reportedly been coming in. The sheriff’s office did not release any details.
Estrada’s daughter, who was with her boyfriend during the attempted robbery, was a witness to the shooting death of her father.
Christina Estrada, age 19, declared that she could not believe her father was actually gone. She stated that his death felt very unreal. The young woman was wearing a police charm attached to a necklace chain on her neck. It had her father’s badge number written on it. She added that her father was a good person and a great father. He was always there for their family and wanted them to be successes in life.
Her boyfriend is reported to be completely devastated at what happened and witnesses are saying the young man is broken-hearted.
Illinois Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart explained that Estrada had been a U.S. Marine, serving in Desert Storm, and was a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He added that the incident was extremely sad for everyone who knew Estrada, and that he was an amazing man.
Estrada’s former sister-in-law, Patty Santamaria, stated he was a pillar of the community. She explained how Estrada prepared block parties and fundraisers, including the Christmas party he was at on Friday evening. He worked hard to clean up the streets.
Even though Estrada was divorced from Santamaria’s sister, he had stayed very close with his ex-wife and family. He resided across the street from her and numerous other relatives also live on the block.
The Illinois police investigator had four children and three grandchildren. He would often go around and start the cars of family on the street on cold winter mornings or deliver doughnuts and coffee.
His friends and family preferred to call Estrada by his last name or by the nickname “Temo”, added Santamaria.
There was a parade of police officers escorting Estrada’s body as it was sent from Loyola Medical Center over to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Bellwood local police, Illinois State Police and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department are all involved in investigating the shooting and killing of the Illinois police investigator.
By Kimberly Ruble