HOMAN SQUARE — A SWAT training exercise inside a West Side police station turned into an active gunman scenario Monday, prosecutors said, accusing a north suburban man of breaking into the building through a fire escape, obtaining a bulletproof vest and aiming two guns at officers before he was shot.
Donald Patrick, 47, of suburban Waukegan was charged Tuesday with three counts of burglary and five counts of aggravated assault on a police officer. Judge Kelly McCarthy set bond at $500,000 during an appearance in Cook County bond court Wednesday.
The incident occurred around noon Monday when Patrick entered the Homan Square police department facility at 1101 S. Homan Ave., prosecutors said.
Patrick first asked an officer at the facility where he could recover property held by the department, prosecutors said. When officers told Patrick he did not have any property at the facility because he’d never been arrested, he went outside and asked a guard a similar question, then walked toward the back of the building, prosecutors said.
Once there, prosecutors said he pulled down a fire escape and managed to climb to the building’s fifth floor, entering the building through an open door. Supt. David Brown previously said the door had been propped open because there was no ventilation on the floor.
Officers were conducting a SWAT training exercise when Patrick entered the building, with supervising officers observing the training from a catwalk that ran above the fifth floor, prosecutors said. Officers had left their unloaded firearms on a desk near the door, with ammunition placed in storage, prosecutors said.
The guns did not have live rounds, but it was not immediately clear if they were empty as they might have contained non-lethal ammunition, Brown said Monday.
Patrick took three automatic pistols on the desk, putting one in his pocket and carrying the other two in his hands, prosecutors said. He then walked toward the training area and aimed the weapons at four officers on the catwalk, prosecutors said, with one of the officers yelling, “Gun! Gun!” A fifth officer also saw Patrick aiming the weapons at other officers, prosecutors said.
Officers then jumped off the catwalk to alert other training officers on the third floor about the active gunman, with one officer breaking their foot, prosecutors said. One officer went to retrieve his gun from the training table, but realized it had been taken, prosecutors said. That officer then saw Patrick pointing the guns at him, prompting him to run into the stairwell, where another officer was, prosecutors said.
Patrick found and put on a bulletproof vest, and followed the officers into the stairwell, prosecutors said. After confronting officers in the stairwell, one of them shot Patrick, prosecutors said.
The officer “yelled out commands to the defendant, but while in fear for his life [the officer] then shot six to seven shots in the direction of the defendant,” assistant state’s attorney Rhianna Biernat said.
Patrick threw away the guns he was holding after he was wounded, Biernat said.
Patrick was treated for gunshot wounds at the station and transported to Stroger Hospital with an injury to his face, prosecutors said. He was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, prosecutors said.
Surveillance cameras captured parts of the incident on video, but not the shooting, prosecutors said. Because officers were doing a training exercise, there is no police body camera footage of the incident, prosecutors said.
Patrick admitted to taking the guns off the table and told officers he was “resourceful” in how he entered the building, prosecutors said.
Jennifer Perimal, who represented Patrick during the hearing, requested a health care order, saying “this very likely may have been a mental health episode.” Patrick also spoke over the objection of his attorney at the bond hearing, stating multiple times he would like to “invoke the chain of command.”
McCarthy said the incident could have ended up much worse.
“[Patrick] created an ultimately life-or-death situation for everyone involved in this case,” McCarthy said. “The weapons did not have live rounds in them, but he did not know that at the time he had the weapons.”
Patrick is next scheduled to appear in court Oct. 5.
The shooting is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Brown said.
The Homan Square facility is one of the city’s most notorious — and secretive — police sites. A 2015 report by The Guardian found at least 7,000 people were disappeared to the off-the-books interrogation compound, and many were physically and mentally tortured into giving false confessions.
Activists have camped out near the site to demand the city defund the police.
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