LINCOLN SQUARE — The man who pulled a gun on a dog that was off its leash in a Lincoln Square park last month was let go by Chicago Police officers on the scene once they discovered he was an off-duty law enforcement officer, newly released 911 records show.
The records also show the gunman was playing with his own kids in Gross Park — and possibly pushing a stroller — when he confronted the dog, apparently upset it was in the park unleashed.
It’s unclear what agency the man works for. Records from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications obtained through a Freedom of Information request indicate the officers dispatched to the park only reported “this was an off duty law enforcement officer.”
A Chicago Police spokesman couldn’t say if the man was a Chicago officer because the report didn’t detail his affiliation.
“That incident was given a disposition by responding officers so unfortunately, there is no report to substantiate who was involved,” said Steve Rusanov, a police spokesperson.
The incident, which sparked multiple rounds of debate in neighborhood Facebook groups about guns in the park and dogs allowed to play off leashes, happened at 11:18 a.m. on Sunday, May 5.
The dog’s owner filed a police report saying a stranger pulled out a gun and pointed it at his dog because it was in the park at 2708 W. Lawrence Ave. without a leash, said police, who referred to the man with the gun as the “unknown offender.”
City officials released a 911 call reporting the incident, with the caller saying “six to 10 kids” — including the caller’s daughter — were playing in the park when it happened.
“Hi there’s a guy in a park in Gross Park at Lawrence and Washtenaw with a gun. He just pulled it on a dog,” said the 911 caller, who gave the dispatcher his name. It was redacted from the recording released to Block Club.
On the recording the 911 operator next asks for additional information about where in Gross Park the gunman is. The gunman was in the playground standing on a “climbing area,” the caller responded.
When the 911 operator asks for a description of the gunman the caller says he’s a tall white guy wearing a green shirt, a khaki “safari” style hat with a wide brim, khaki pants and black shoes.
“He doesn’t have it out right now, he’s playing with his kids. But there was a dog that ran into the playground and he pulled it on the dog. I couldn’t hear what he said but my daughter was right next to him,” the 911 caller said. “There’s like, six or 10 kids out there.”
The 911 operator then assures the caller that police are being dispatched to the area.
The “event query” report accompanying the 911 call show that officers who responded to the call began searching for the gunman after several witnesses reported a man flashing a handgun.
The responding officers saw the gunman around 11:30 a.m. — apparently pushing a baby stroller, according to a note in the report — near Jacob Park, 4674 N. Virginia Ave., which is a few blocks southwest of Gross Park.
After the gunman was found officers stopped him but a few minutes later let their dispatcher know they were disregarding the 911 call.
“This was an off duty law enforcement officer,” the report said.
The report then says the officers responding to the 911 call went back to Gross Park to look for a “loose sheppard” and the original 911 caller. They were unsuccessful.
The week after the incident, police initially said no report was filed by the responding officers, but police later confirmed the dog owner sought a report.
The dog’s owner posted about the incident on Facebook, but later deleted it after drawing hundreds of comments from concerned residents.
In a new May 9 post about the incident, he said neighbors seemed more concerned about his off-leash dog than the gunman.
“This definitely did happen and I’m the owner of one of the two dogs. I deleted my original post looking for info about the guy because instead of being helpful I was berated by individuals telling me to leash my dog (20lb dachshund) and I didn’t feel the need to defend myself or my dog any more that day,” the person said. “A police report has been filed.”
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