CHICAGO — The deaths of Officers Eduardo Marmolejo and Conrad Gary brings this year’s total of on-duty police officer deaths up to four. That makes 2018 the worst year for such deaths since 2010.
Marmolejo and Gary, partners for the night, responded to a “ShotSpotter” automatic detection of gunshots at 101st and Dauphin on the Far South Side just before 6 p.m. Monday.
A suspected gunman ran up the train embankment at 103rd and Cottage Grove, and the officers followed, according to authorities. The officers were then struck by the South Shore train at 6:21 p.m. on tracks owned by Metra.
Before Monday, an on-duty police officer hadn’t been killed by a train in more than 15 years. In 2002, Officer Benjamin Perez was killed by a commuter train while conducting a stakeout on the West Side.
Monday’s tragedy also marked the first time in more than 30 years that two officers were killed during the same incident in the line of duty. The last time that happened was in 1990 when Officers Raymond Kilroy and Gregory Hauser were both fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance on the Northwest Side.
But 2018 has been a tragic year for the Chicago police department.
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.
Chicago hasn’t seen that many on-duty police officers killed since 2010.
In 2017, Officer Andre H. Van Vegten died in a car crash while chasing a gunman and Officer Bernie Domagala succumbed from gunfire injuries sustained in a 1988 barricade situation at 7237 S. Stony Island Avenue.
There were no on-duty police officer deaths in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, according to the official police memorial website.
In 2011, two officers were killed: Officer Clifton P. Lewis, who was fatally shot during a robbery at a grocery store on North Austin Boulevard, and Officer Paul Winston Nauden, who suffered from a fatal heart attack during a narcotics investigation.
2010 saw five officer deaths, one of them off-duty.
The four that died by gunfire include Officer Michael Ronald Flisk, who was fatally shot while at the scene of a car burglary inside in the 8100 block of South Burnham Avenue, Officer Michael Ray Bailey, Sr., who was shot and killed while trying to thwart an attempted armed robbery in front of his South Side home, Officer Thor Odin Soderberg, who was shot and killed during an attempted robbery near 61st Street and Racine Avenue and Officer Thomas Wortham, who was fatally shot by a group of four robbers while he was off duty.
Also that year Sergeant Alan J. Haymaker was killed in a car accident while responding to a burglary-in-progress call.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi didn’t immediately respond when asked how this year’s death toll has affected officers on the force.
But Guglielmi, along with Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have all reflected on the devastating pair of tragedies.
“There are no words that can express the grief, the sense of loss,” Emanuel said at a press conference following the deaths of Officers Marmolejo and Gary. “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.”
In addition to the four on-duty deaths, the department has also seen four officers die by suicide this year, including two from Marmolejo and Gary’s same South Side district.
“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,” Johnson said of the tragedies in the Calumet District, based at 727 E. 111th St.
“They’ll be hurting but they’ll still be out there doing the job they swore an oath for.”
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