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Monday 14 October 2019

Chicago officers probably didn’t see train that killed them

Two officers were hit by a commuter train after running on to the tracks to investigate gunfire.

Chicago police (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP)
Chicago police (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP)

By Don Babwin, Associated Press

Two Chicago police officers may not have seen or heard the train that fatally struck them because they were focused on another train coming from the opposite direction, a department spokesman has said.

Anthony Guglielmi said “very limited” video from a body camera one of the officers was wearing helped investigators piece together how the tragedy might have happened.

The officers had run on to an elevated area of the tracks on Monday night on the city’s far South Side to investigate gunfire. On the video, they “clearly acknowledge” a northbound train just before the southbound train hits them, Mr Guglielmi said.

“They must have thought the sound they heard was the northbound train,” he said. “They must have missed the sound of the train right behind them.”

Officers Eduardo Marmolejo and Conrad Gary were doing surveillance after technology that detects the sound of gunfire alerted police about shots fired in the area.

Between the sound of the first train and the fact they were focused on finding a gunman, they were unable to move off the tracks.

The man they were pursuing was taken into custody by other officers a short time later, and a gun was recovered near where the officers were struck.

Mr Guglielmi said the man was being questioned and had not been charged with any crime.

“These brave young men were consumed with identifying a potential threat,” Superintendent Eddie Johnson said to reporters at a news conference on Monday night.

Eduardo Marmolejo (Chicago Police Department/AP)

Mr Johnson later led a delegation of the department’s command staff to search the area along the tracks to recover the remains of the two officers. Mr Guglielmi said Mr Johnson had met the families of the two officers.

The officers were assigned to the Calumet police district. Mr Marmolejo, 36, had been a member of the department for two and a half years, and Mr Gary, 31, had been on the force for 18 months.

Both were married with children. Mr Marmolejo was the father of three children, one in high school and two younger children, and Mr Gary had a six-month-old daughter.

Conrad Gary (Chicago Police Department/AP)

Four Chicago police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year.

The tragedy bore similarities to the 2002 death of Chicago officer Benjamin Perez, who was hit by a commuter train while conducting surveillance on narcotics activity on the city’s West Side.

Officer Samuel Jimenez was killed in a shootout last month after he chased a gunman inside a hospital on the South Side. That gunman also killed two other people before taking his own life.

In February, Commander Paul Bauer was fatally shot while pursuing a suspect in the Loop business district.

The total is the highest number of Chicago officers killed in the line of duty in one year since five were killed in 2010.

Their deaths mark the first time two officers died in the same incident since 1990, according to Dave Bayless, spokesman for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel mourned the officers on Monday night, telling reporters: “I think it’s really important that we put our arms around the Chicago Police Department and hold them up and support them at this critical juncture, because we are so dependent on their professionalism and their sense of duty.”

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