CHICAGO — A devastating year for Chicago’s Calumet (5th) Police District — “tragedy after tragedy” — continued Monday evening when two of its officers were hit and killed by a train as they chased a gunman.
The deaths of Officers Eduardo Marmolejo, 37, and Conrad Gary, 31, follow two earlier deaths of officers from the same South Side district who died by suicide.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked the city to pray for the district and the entire department, which has lost four officers in the line of duty in 2018.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the Calumet District, which is based at 727 E. 111th St., “has had to deal with tragedy after tragedy this year.”
“You start to wonder to yourself how much can they take. But I’ll tell you this, the resolve of Chicago Police always amazes me,” the superintendent said at a press conference following Monday’s night’s tragedy. “They’ll be hurting but they’ll still be out there doing the job they swore an oath for.”
Officers Marmolejo and Gary died instantly when they were hit by an outbound South Shore train, which was traveling as fast as 70 mph, Johnson said.
The Police Department sent clergy to the Calumet District and counseling was available, said Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police spokesman. Officers from other districts also helped cover late shifts in the Calumet Districts.
Guglielmi said the “devastating tragedy” happened on the tracks near 103rd and Cottage Grove.
The officers, partners for the night, responded to a “ShotSpotter” automatic detection of gunshots at 101st and Dauphin just after 6 p.m. Monday.
A suspected gunman ran up the train embankment at 103rd and Cottage Grove, and the officers followed, Johnson said.
They were struck by the South Shore train at 6:21 p.m. on tracks owned by Metra.
“By doing the most dangerous thing any police officer can do, and that is to chase an individual with a gun, these brave young men were consumed with identifying a potential threat to their community and put the safety of others above their own,” Johnson said.
Both men were married with children, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
Marmolejo had been on the force for 18 months. Gary had been an officer for 2 1/2 years, Johnson said.
The crowded train, part of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, had departed Chicago’s Millennium Station en route to Indiana. Investigators went through the train interviewing passengers before they were transferred to buses to finish their commute.
Johnson said a gun was found on the scene, and a “person of interest” was being questioned.
Emanuel and Johnson met with family members of the fallen officers before meeting the media.
“There are no words that can express the grief, the sense of loss,” Emanuel said. “It just knocks you back on your heels. …
“We’ve lost two young men, both fathers, young families. This holiday will never be the same. Those two families, while our hearts are with them, we lost people who answer the call to make Chicago a better place,” Emanuel said.
“We all go about our lives, not thinking twice, we do that because of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”
2018 has already been a tragic year for Chicago Police.
On Feb. 13, Paul Bauer, the commander of the Near North District, was fatally shot while pursuing a gunman in the Loop.
On Nov. 19, officer Samuel “Sammy” Jimenez, a 28-year-old husband and father of three, was killed when a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital.
Additionally, four Chicago police officers have died by suicide this year, including two from the Calumet District.
Johnson said his reaction to the news Monday night was shock.
“Just here we are again,” he told reporters. “It just highlights how dangerous this job can be.”