BEVERLY — An off-duty Chicago police officer is now paralyzed from the abdomen down after trying to break up a Beverly bar fight that spilled into the street and ended in two men firing more than 20 shots into the crowd, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Danny Golden, a six-year member of the department, was out celebrating with friends and family at Sean’s Rhino Bar near 104th and Western after playing in the neighborhood’s charity Papa Hops 16” Softball Tournament Friday night.
Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, he was shot in the back after a verbal altercation turned into a bar fight that ended with two people shot, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Demetrius Harrell, 28, of Chicago Ridge; Bryant Hayes, 22, of Chicago; and Justen Krismantis, 22, of Chebanse, all face felony charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, prosecutors said. Hayes and Krismantis also face attempted murder charges.
All three men were held without bail during a hearing in Cook County Court Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said video from the scene shows a bar fight spilling out of Sean’s Rhino Bar onto Western Avenue. Harrell, Hayes and Krismantis had just arrived at Sean’s Rhino Bar after first going to nearby Brewbaker’s bar.
Not long after going into a packed Sean’s, Harrell, Hayes and Krismantis got into an argument and then a fight, he said. Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not say what led to the argument.
Golden was not involved in the fight and was instead trying to break it up, holding a man back at one point, Murphy said.
Hayes at one point started running south on Western with people from the bar chasing him, Murphy said surveillance video shows. Several people try to break up the altercation, including Golden, who holds back someone who is trying to go after Hayes on Western, Murphy said.
After the fight moved to near 104th and Artesian, Hayes and a witness who was not Golden struggled on the ground wrestling before separating, Murphy said. By the time the shooting took place, the fighting had ended, he said.
“No fighting is happening, it’s ended,” Murphy said.
During the fight, Krismantis went back to his Jeep parked near 104th and Artesian and grabbed a modified automatic gun with a 30-round extended clip from the car’s passenger side, Murphy said. He then gave the gun to Hayes, who pointed it at Golden and a second victim, a 24-year-old man, who were standing nearby. He then fired 19 bullets in bursts of gunfire from the illegally modified gun, the prosecutor said.
Golden was walking away from the shooter and was hit in the middle of his back, he said.
Hayes then handed off the gun to Harrell, who fired three more shots at the crowd, Murphy said. The three men then got into the two cars they parked at 104th and Artesian and drove off. The gun was not recovered from the scene, he said.
Golden was shot in his back and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police said. The bullet traveled through his spine, paralyzing him from the abdomen down. It passed through one of Golden’s lungs and lodged near his aorta, where doctors left it because it’s too dangerous to remove, prosecutors said.
The 24-year-old victim was shot in his leg, Murphy said. He is Golden’s brother, according to their aunt, Eileen Gorman.
In a group text message thread after the shooting, the men “corroborate” that Krismantis got the gun from the car, prosecutors said. “The defendants also joked about the incident afterwards, stating quote ‘Let’s get drunk this weekend and start a bar fight’ and ‘That sh-t was fun, they beat my ass, too,'” Murphy said.
When questioned by police, Harrell, who is on parole for a bank robbery sentence, admitted being in the area, and said Hayes shot a gun with a green laser sight first. When he fired it, Harrell said it went off on accident, but video shows Harrell walked toward the victims, extended his arm and fired, Murphy said.
A private attorney representing Krismantis said he didn’t shoot the gun and said the crowd was chasing him.
“We do know they were chased out of the bar and out on the street,” a public defender representing Hayes and Harrell said.
But in setting no bail, judge Charles Beach said, “I do believe the fight had effectively ended.”
Beach also said the three men charged, based on their text messages, “feel no remorse” and the spray of gunfire came in a residential neighborhood.
“Families live there,” the judge said.
Family members have set up a GoFundMe to help with Golden’s recovery from the shooting. It raised $550,000 in its first few hours live.
Golden is an Army veteran, one of seven children and a third-generation police officer, his aunt wrote.
“This devastating, life-altering event has forever changed the course of his life,” Gorman wrote. “All those who have known Dan are grieving after such a senseless, tragic event.”
“It’s devastating,” Mike Rzab, a longtime friend of Golden’s, said Monday night. “We see this stuff happen quite a bit, but this one hits home. It makes it more real.”
Rzab coached Golden in wrestling at St. Rita High School, where a prayer service for the wounded police officer is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Golden is a 2009 St. Rita alum.
“He was a very good wrestler, great leader and one of the toughest people I know,” Rzab said as several members of the South Side and south suburban wrestling community met in Oak Forest to create a video of well-wishes.
“We’re here to support a good, respectful person,” Brian Utesch, a Mount Greenwood resident who coaches with the Mount Greenwood Mustangs wrestling coach said.
Rzab said Golden is in good spirits while recovering at the hospital, but that doctors have said the bullet may be lodged in his back permanently. An Instagram photo shared by Golden’s fiance, Casey Szaflarski, shows a smiling Golden in a hospital bed on his 32nd birthday Monday with a line that reads, “Your strength and courage is unmatched.”
Liam Hopkins, organizer of the Papa Hops tournament and another friend of Golden’s, echoed others’ comments on the police officer’s toughness.
“He sacrifices himself to protect others every day, and on a day where he should be able to enjoy himself in his community, this tragedy happens,” Hopkins said on Facebook. “Danny Golden is the toughest of them and we will continue to keep him, Casey and the Golden family in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Danny, we love you and will continue to pray for you and just know if anyone can do it, Danny Golden can and will.”
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