Police Officer Killed Outside Station With Own Gun
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 8, 2010 2:00PM
Chicago Police Officer Thor Soderberg, 43, was shot and killed yesterday afternoon as he was leaving a police building in the Englewood neighborhood. Officer Soderbergh was walking through the parking lot of the building, at 61st St. and S. Racine, at 3:45 p.m. yesterday when a man, a convicted felon, became "became involved in a struggle," according to a police spokesman, and in the ensuing scuffle, the man got control of Soderberg's gun and shot the officer in the head. The man fled the scene and then robbed a civilian nearby where police caught up to him, shooting and wounding him. He was reported in critical but stable condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where he is in police custody.
Assistant Police Supt. James Jackson said, “The entire Chicago Police Department would like to send their deepest condolences to the officer’s family, and we ask that you keep them in your prayers." According to the Tribune, he was married but had no children. Sodeberg, an 11-year veteran, was an instructor at the CPD's training academy but had been at the building as part of Operation Protect Youth, a CPD program where "administrative personnel are deployed to high crime areas throughout the summer months and schools during the fall."
The killing had shades of the July 2008 killing of police officer Richard Francis, who was also killed when a perp wrested the gun from an officer, killing him with his own weapon. Soderberg is the seventh officer to be killed, the fifth in the line of duty, since July 2008, the most violent two-year stretch for police officers in 20 years and comes after a six-year stretch (2002 to 2008) in which five officers were killed. The other officers killed since July 2008:
- Richard Francis (July 2008)
- Robert Soto (August 2008)
- Nathaniel Taylor, Jr. (September 2008)
- Alejandro "Alex" Valadez (June 2009)
- Sgt. Alan Haymaker (February 2010)
- Thomas Wortham, IV (May 2010)
The city's murder rate also continues its fluctuation. While the murder rate remains well below what it was 20 years ago (or even 10), there's still been an uptick since Jody Weis took command, from 442 in 2007 to 510 in 2008. That number dropped to 458 last year but things don't bode well for 2010. According to information from the Red Eye Homicide Map, there were 218 homicides in the first six months of 2010 and the city reached 200 murders several weeks ahead of when it hit that number in 2009. 15 murders in the first week of July - including Officer Soderberg - has put this year's total at 233. It's looking like Mayor Daley won't face any opposition for his reelection run next year, but no matter who's on the fifth floor of City Hall next spring, we can't imagine Weis, who long ago dealt with confidence issues among a force that has been riddled with cutbacks and funding issues over the past several years (even as $59 million was spent on new SUVs for the force), will be around much longer.