A high-ranking police officer was killed in the line of duty Tuesday while assisting a tactical team chase down a suspect near the Thompson Center, Chicago.
Commander Paul Bauer, 53, who served 31 years in the task force, was shot around 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. EST) after he engaged in an armed confrontation with a man who matched the description of a suspect wanted by First District tactical officers, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
“The hearts of every Chicagoan are heavy as we mourn the loss of Commander Paul Bauer,” Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel said, local news outlet WGN 9 reported.
“Commander Bauer stood for the highest ideals of our police department & our city — to serve & protect the people of Chicago. I ask every Chicagoan to keep his family in their thoughts and prayers,” he added.
Bauer was shot multiple times and was rushed to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, while the suspect was arrested and the weapon was recovered.
Soon after, an emotional Supt. Eddie Johnson of Chicago Police Department delivered the news of Bauer’s death outside the hospital.
“I just asked the citizens of the city to keep the Bauer family in their prayers,” Johnson said. “I’ve been meeting with his wife and daughter this is a difficult day for us but we will get through it. I ask the entire city for your thoughts and prayers. Today is difficult.”
Hours later, a procession was organized, where Bauer’s fellow officers marched with blue lights as the body was brought to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Bauer was famously known to downtown residents as the 18th District commander who hosted popular “coffee with the commander” meetings in local cafes every week. Charlie Branda, the founder of Art on Sedgwick School in Chicago, who knew Bauer from one of his meetings, said it was hard to believe that the commander was no more.
“I was heartbroken,” Branda said. “I was actually walking to a meeting in the neighborhood afterward and I took the wrong turn three times. Just last week he was in this room with a big community meeting to talk with members of the community. He was just so present and supportive of community efforts 44 to bring people together.”
Justin Thomas, who worked with Bauer, said: “Approachable, absolutely. He wanted perception. When you saw him, he didn’t want to be the enemy. He really tried to get the officers to communicate and not to rush to judgment. It had relaxed over here a whole lot since he’s been here. I think it’s just, just a tragedy man, I wouldn’t wish that fate in anybody.”
A high-ranking police official was killed Tuesday while assisting a tactical team chase down a suspect near the Thompson Center, Chicago. In this photo, a police officer guards an entrance to Antioch Community High School during the visitation and funeral of slain Fox Lake police officer Lt. Joe Gliniewicz in Fox Lake, Illinois, Sept. 7, 2015.
© Photo: Getty Images/ Scott Olson
A high-ranking police official was killed Tuesday while assisting a tactical team chase down a suspect near the Thompson Center, Chicago. In this photo, a police officer guards an entrance to Antioch Community High School during the visitation and funeral of slain Fox Lake police officer Lt. Joe Gliniewicz in Fox Lake, Illinois, Sept. 7, 2015. Photo: Getty Images/ Scott Olson
Adell Thomas, a community leader, who considered Bauer a friend said: “It’s hard for me today, yes, because once you build that rapport with someone, not to say that the next person that comes along won’t have the same rapport, but you never know. It’s hard to lose someone in the community. It’s even harder to lose someone I could actually say was a friend.”
Before working with the 18th District, Bauer served in the Chicago Police Mounted Patrol Unit. He also led the group that helped control crowds when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013.
“The hardest thing we do in our training is the rider can’t react,” Bauer told NBC Chicago on the night that the fans erupted. “You are trying to transmit to that horse, it’s not big deal.”
Many colleagues as well as activists who met Bauer in the past, took to social media to pay their respects to the fallen commander.