More than $60,000 in reward money is being offered for information about the gunman who shot and seriously wounded a federal agent who was working undercover in a joint mission with Chicago police on the South Side Friday morning.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is putting up $25,000, the Chicago Police Department another $25,000 and community groups $11,000, it was announced at an afternoon news conference.
One of the bureau’s agents was wounded around 3:15 a.m. near 44th Street and Hermitage Avenue in the Back of the Yards, not far from Davis Square Park, police said. He was taken by a police car to Stroger Hospital, where ATF officials said he was stable and expected to make a full recovery.
Officials said the agent, in his late 20s, was shot during an investigation of illegal guns but gave no details. No one was in custody.
Radio traffic shows officers with the agent initially planned to take him to a fire station about four blocks away, but then decided to drive the agent to the hospital, calling repeatedly for escorts to clear the way.
“We need an escort … we’re going to the fire station,” one officer radios.
“We got shots fired by police,” another officer says. “We have an ATF agent shot. He’s the one going to the fire station right now.”
But the officers changed their mind and decided to head to Stroger. “I need an escort to a (expletive) hospital right now,” an officer says.“Officer hit. We need an escort to a hospital now.”
“He may be hit in the head,” an officer radios seconds later. “We need escort for CPD car. … We’re going to Stroger.”
Neighbors close to the shooting said they lost count of the number of shots fired.
Luz Campos, who lives several houses down from the shooting, was in her kitchen tending to a toddler when she heard someone say, “Open the door. Open the door.”
She then heard what she thought were fireworks. “Then the cops were coming.”
Campos stepped outside with the young boy and saw a rush of police cars. The boy stood behind her and waved to an officer who was walking toward the shooting scene. The officer waved back.
Other neighbors said they heard a barrage of gunshots. One woman, who was asleep on a couch in her front room, said she awoke to continued gunfire. “We just heard a lot of shots.”
By sunrise, groups of ATF agents and Chicago police officers — at least two of them high-ranking department officials — walked up and down 44th Street near the shooting. Gusts of wind shook yellow crime tape as children with backpacks headed to school.
The wounded agent is part of a strike force formed last June to cut the flow of illegal guns into Chicago and crack down on people repeatedly arrested on gun charges, officials said. Twenty ATF agents were assigned to the task force, along with 20 officers from the Police Department and the Illinois State Police.
In Back of the Yards, the ATF agents have teamed with Chicago police to investigate gang-related rifle shootings that have become more common in that area over the last two years. The Tribune has reported that more than 140 people have been shot — 50 of them fatally — from the fall of 2016 to the end of 2017 by gang members wielding rifles as their use spread across the South and Southwest sides.
Friday’s shooting happened almost exactly a year after two Chicago police officers were shot in Back of the Yards a few blocks away. On May 2, 2017, the Deering District officers were riding in a covert van when they were wounded by rifle fire. One suspect was arrested and a second remains at large.