At approximately 2pm on February 13, Paul Bauer, a Chicago police commander, died after being shot multiple times during a violent confrontation with an armed assailant, CBS Chicago reports. The suspect, whose name has been released as Shomari Legghette, has been charged with killing Commander Bauer and is currently in police custody. Additional details will be provided as soon as they are available.
Initial reports incorrectly stated that Bauer was off-duty when the shooting occurred. Commander Bauer was indeed on duty when the incident occurred, and had just completed a training session on responding to active shooters when he received an alert on his radio notifying him of the escalating situation with the suspect, just outside the Thompson Center, clarifies the Chicago Sun Times.
Here is what we know about Legghette thus far and the tragic events that unfolded yesterday afternoon so far, which took place in downtown Chicago in an area known as The Loop.
1. Legghette Was Apprehended And Arrested at The Scene
It is believed that gunfire was exchanged at the scene between Bauer and Legghette. Bauer was shot multiple times, according to reports. He was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Witnesses report that attempts to resuscitate Bauer were unsuccessful, and he was seen being transported on a stretcher, bleeding heavily, into an ambulance.
There are no reports as to whether or not t Legghette sustained any injuries during the confrontation.
Officers were able to apprehend the suspect and bring him into custody, along with the firearm that he reportedly had on his person, CBS Local reports.
More information on the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago is explained in the following PBS documentary:
2. Legghette is a Felon With a Lengthy Criminal History
Legghette’s criminal history thus far has been reported by the Chicago Sun Times as follows:
“The 44-year-old suspect’s felony record goes back to 1998, when he was charged with armed robbery. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
In 2007, Legghette was charged with being a felon in possession of body armor, possession of a defaced firearm and possession of heroin. He got three years in prison on the gun charge, records show.
In 2011, he was charged with resisting an officer and battery. He was convicted of battery and given 30 days of community service, records show.
Finally, Legghette was convicted of drug possession in 2014 and received a two-year prison term.”
The Chicago Police Department Records Division maintains a database of all adult arrests from 2014 forward. While the alleged suspect is believed to have been charged in 2014 for possession, after an extensive search of the database, none of the individuals arrested in 2014 match the description of the alleged suspect; unfortunately providing no additional details as to his identity.
In an email from Superintendent Eddie Johnson to rank-and-file-officers, he wrote “the man suspected of killing an off-duty Chicago Police commander Tuesday in the Thompson Center was wearing body armor and has a long felony record, including a conviction for armed robbery, according to court records and police sources,” reports The Chicago Sun Times. Again, to reiterate, Commander Bauer was on duty at the time, contrary to initial reports.
Additionally, officers found a firearm on Legghette’s person, which was also taken into evidence.
3. The Circumstances of The Incident
The details surrounding what caused today’s events to reach such tragic heights are still being determined. As previously mentioned, the incident took place in downtown Chicago’s Thompson Center.
“Just before the shooting, Central District tactical officers had spotted a suspicious man near State and Wacker, [Police Superintendent Eddie] Johnson said in his email. The man ran when the officers tried to do a ‘street stop’ to interview him. He was wearing a long black coat with a fur collar,” explains the Chicago Sun Times.
What is known is that Commander Bauer was leaving a training session on responding to active shooters. He reportedly attempted to assist tactical officers who were actively pursuing a suspect. It was at that point that gunfire was exchanged, and Commander Bauer was hit multiple times.
“The police superintendent said the events leading up to Bauer’s death unfolded this way: A tactical team of officers on routine patrol saw a suspicious-looking individual, tried to talk with him and got into a confrontation with the suspect before he fled. The officers then relayed a description of the individual on the police radio. Bauer was in the area, noticed the suspect and intervened,” reports CBS Local.
4. What Commander Paul Bauer Meant to Chicago
Bauer, 53, was a 31 year veteran of the Chicago police force. He was a devoted officer, committed to bettering the lives of the citizens of Chicago, and as a result of his work ethic, boundless energy and enthusiasm for his work, he quickly rose through the ranks. He enjoyed volunteer work and it made him happy to help others. In addition to his commitment to protecting the citizens of Chicago, he participated in various charitable causes. For example, he supported a network for fallen officers.
Bauer leaves behind a wife and a 13-year-old daughter, and a representative of the Chicago PD has asked that the family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time.
“Today is an extremely difficult day for the Chicago police family,” an emotional Johnson told reporters outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Bauer was taken.
Johnson asked that residents offer their thoughts and prayers on behalf of Bauer’s family,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said to CBS Local.
The procession of Commander Bauer arriving at the morgue can be viewed here:
5. What This Means For Chicago
Since 2016, there has been a sharp rise in the number of violent crimes reported in the Windy City. That said, the windy city is no stranger to violence and has quite a blood-soaked history. The Chicago Tribune reports as follows:
“The spike in violent crime that has plagued Chicago since 2016 has even more gravity when viewed in comparison with six decades of homicides in Chicago. Since 1957, the city has had homicide totals of 700 or more nearly half the time, 27 of 60 years, and has been lower than 500 a third of the time, 19 of 60 years. To understand this long-term view, the Tribune asked two experts to give perspective as to what was behind Chicago crime decade by decade, and combed through news coverage going back to the 1960s. The Tribune turned to John Hagedorn, a professor of criminology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has written extensively on Chicago’s gangs as well as Wyndell Watkins, a retired Washington, D.C., deputy chief of police with more than 40 years of public safety experience. Here is a closer look at the numbers and some of the influences behind them.”
Chicago undoubtedly has had a turbulent history, from the days of the notorious mob boss Al Capone during prohibition in the 1920s – 1930s to the violence that unfolded yesterday. Of course, that is not to say there is no hope for Chicago – nothing could be further from the truth. Areas of Chicago have recently experienced a cultural renaissance of education and the arts. Unfortunately, the city still has been unable to rid itself of its violent underbelly.
That being said, this is in no way an attempt to diminish, insult or minimize the accomplishments of the citizens of Chicago, the vibrant, beautiful city, the wide array of culture and the unique atmosphere. This is simply another example of a senseless tragedy that took place on American soil; this time in Chicago. The question remains – how do we keep our citizens safe if even our law enforcement officials are vulnerable?
For further reading, check out Paul Bauer: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.