The police in Gary and Indianapolis, IN, Denver, CO, and Chicago, IL, have encountered a significant amount of violence over the past few days. While the high number of officer involved shootings nationwide is surely an anomaly, the impact of the incidents in Chicago are likely to have a much different result since the police were shooters and not the ones shot.
Early this morning in Gary, IN, officer Jeffrey Westerfield was discovered motionless in his patrol car. He had been shot and was pronounced dead when authorities arrived on scene. Authorities in Gary have a few leads and a manhunt is being conducted for his killer.
Late Saturday night, officer Perry Renn of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was fatally shot during an exchange of gunfire with 25-year-old Major Davis Jr. after being called to the scene on reports of shots fired. Davis was also wounded in the encounter and was taken to the same hospital as officer Renn. According to Indianapolis Police Davis is being charged with Renn’s murder. This incident came after a shooting in another part of Indianapolis wounded seven others earlier in the day.
Just outside of Denver, CO, two officers were shot and wounded when they were called to check on a man who was acting “despondent”. Upon arriving at the scene, the unnamed male and female officers were both shot by the man they were sent to check on, also unnamed. A third officer arrived at the scene and wounded the shooter. None of the injuries appear to be life threatening and no charges have yet been made regarding the incident. The two officers are said to have been saved from more serious harm because they were wearing bulletproof vests.
In Chicago, four separate shooting incidents involving police occurred. None of the four resulted in any harm to officers, however all incidents resulted in injuries and two individuals were killed. The last officer involved shooting in Chicago ended Saturday night with the death of a 16-year-old boy who was hiding under a car but refused to drop his weapon at the request of the officers. A semiautomatic .380-caliber handgun was retrieved from the scene as the incident concluded. The other three shootings occurred on Friday, July 4.
At around 4 a.m., Friday morning police responded to a 911 call indicating a man with a gun. When arriving at the scene the officer involved saw a man run away and chased pursued him to an alley. As the officer reached the alley himself he heard gunfire and saw a man with a gun in his hand. The police officer shot back and wounded the shooter in his chest. The suspect was taken to a local hospital in serious condition.
The second shooting occurred in another neighborhood of Chicago before noon and involved a 45-year-old parolee who may have attempted “suicide by police.” Apparently the individual, after a brief chase and with his back to pursuing officers stated he had a gun and that they would have to shoot him before he shot them. The parolee then reached toward his belt and turned to the officers in a threatening manner. The officers, feeling their lives were in jeopardy, fired on him, and wounded him in the chest.
The final officer involved shooting in Chicago on Friday involved a man acting in a suspicious manner in the Old Irving Park area of the city. When police noticed the man and gave chase he began running himself and pulled out “a large revolver.” The officers fired at the man who died shortly thereafter.
The individual incidents are all being investigated and the findings from that will determine, whether shot or shooter, the police all acted appropriately given the circumstances. At this point, there is not enough information to make those kind of determinations, and the multiple shootings remain simply a disturbing trend. No investigative rulings or public hearings which result, however, will make this weekend any less tragic for the families of those shot, whether they wore badges or not.
By David Morris