CHICAGO -- Two Chicago police officers were shot and wounded Friday by a gunman who dropped a handgun while waiting in line at an outdoor hot dog stand with one of the officers, picked it up and opened fire, police said.
The suspected gunman was captured blocks away by officers and taken into custody.
The wounded officers were rushed to a hospital and one of them, who suffered a grazing wound to his head, was released later in the morning, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters. He said the other officer, who was shot in the leg, was hospitalized but police have described his injuries as non-life-threatening.
Police did not immediately have information about the suspected gunman or possible charges, but Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said he was expected to be charged with attempted murder of a police officer.
The shooting happened around 3:30 a.m. at the Original Maxwell Street hot dog stand on the city's West Side as the gunman and one of the officers waited in line, Brown said. The man reached into his pocket to pay for his order and a gun fell from his waistband, he said.
“The officer noticed the gun falling out, but before they could take action, the offender grabbed the gun, picked it up and began immediately shooting at the officers,” Brown said.
He said the shots struck the officer, who was standing near the suspect, while that officer's partner, who had been sitting inside a police car, was also struck when the suspect fired at least three times into the vehicle.
Neither officer fired any shots and Brown said there was no body camera footage of the shooting because the officers didn't have time to activate their body cameras. A video camera, however, did capture footage of what happened, so detectives would analyze that, he said.
Brown said an undercover officer in the area heard the shots, spotted the alleged gunman and chased him along with other uniformed officers, who captured him a short time later. Brown said a gun that police believe the man tossed away shortly before his capture was recovered nearby.
The shooting comes amid a spate of incidents in which Chicago officers have been shot or targeted by gunfire. In 2020, 80 officers were shot at. Last year, 76 officers were fired upon, including 14 who were struck. In August, Officer Ella French was killed when a man opened fire during a traffic stop. French's partner was wounded but survived. Friday's shooting brings the total number of Chicago officers fired upon this year to six, according to the police department.
“These offenders have no regard for law enforcement,” said Brown, who said the number of times officers have been fired upon has climbed 500% in the last few years. He did not provide totals for such incidents before 2020.
The investigation into the shooting was in the early stages, Brown said, and more information would be released later. Both officers will be placed on routine administrative duties for 30 days, police said.