Chicago police shot and killed alleged gang member Lamar Harris during a brief gunfight Monday night. Three of the officers were also shot but have survived.
Just before 10 p.m., police were chasing 29-year-old Harris outside an apartment building in Chicago’s Homan Square neighborhood when the firefight broke out. Police wanted to question Harris for “possible narcotics activity,” according to officials.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago police believe Harris was a member of a notorious gang named the Vice Lords. Over the past 12 years, he had been arrested over 40 times for different offenses, including drug dealing and violence against law enforcement.
Two of the injured officers were released from Stroger Hospital on Tuesday. The third is expected to make a full recovery but still remains hospitalized.
Authorities confirmed that one officer was shot in the foot, while the other suffered injuries when gunfire struck his bulletproof vest. The officer who remains in the hospital was wounded by a shot in the back.
The last time any members of the Chicago Police Department were injured from an on-duty shooting was nearly 17 months ago. In October 2014, Captain Edward Kulbida and a detective were wounded in a gun battle while trying to apprehend a suspect at an Englewood apartment building.
According to police and court sources, Lamar Harris had been arrested 43 times since 2004. Additionally, he had five felony and two misdemeanor convictions.
Harris’ most recent felony conviction was for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest causing injury. In January 2012, he was sentenced to four years in prison for the crimes.
That conviction was a result of an incident that happened on West Chicago Avenue 18 months prior. Officers were called to the area to investigate a “man with a gun.” Harris, who matched the description of the gunman, was stopped by officers.
Instead of cooperating, the purported gang member shoved one officer and hit another in the head. When officers tried to arrest him, a handgun dropped to the ground, which was recovered by police. The police report of the incident indicated that Harris was also carrying marijuana.
Harris was detained last year for possession of 37 Ecstasy pills. During questioning for this arrest, Harris admitted being a gang member and had been since he was 12-years-old.
Police were called to the Homan Square neighborhood Monday night after several complaints about drug activity. When the officers arrived, they spotted Harris and a woman talking. After careful observation, the officers suspected the couple were involved in a drug deal.
When officers approached the two, Harris quickly ran off. While police pursued on foot, the Vice Lords affiliate began firing at officers and managed to hit all three. One wounded officer fired back and fatally shot Harris, according to a statement by police Superintendent John Escalante.
The gun was recovered from the dead suspect. After being questioned, the woman was released without charges.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to the news of shootout Monday night.
“Every day the dedicated men and women of the Chicago Police Department put themselves in danger so the rest of us can be safe. Tonight we were reminded of the dangers that our police face, and the bravery that they routinely display as three of our officers were shot in line of duty. The thoughts and prayers of our entire city are with the officers and their families during this difficult time.”
The three wounded officers were treated by fellow officers at the scene with first-aid kits until ambulances arrived. When the officers were finally picked up and on the way to Stroger Hospital, authorities closed down the Eisenhower Expressway to make way for emergency vehicles.
As mandated by Chicago police policy implemented after the accidental shooting of a 55-year-old woman, the three officers involved in the gunfight with Lamar Harris will put on administrative duties for the next 30 days.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]