Chicago Police Officer Murdered - A Sad Day in Chicago

          

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According to news reports:  

A plainclothes Chicago police officer died this afternoon after being shot in the head and critically wounded early this morning in the West Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said.
Alejandro "Alex" Valadez, 27, died about 2:40 p.m., police Supt. Jody Weis said.

Valadez is the third officer killed in the line of duty in the past 12 months. Officer Nathaniel Taylor, 39, a 14-year veteran, was shot and killed in September while trying to execute a search warrant against a suspected narcotics dealer. Officer Richard Francis, 60, was fatally shot in July during a struggle with a woman causing a disruption on a bus.

Police sources said detectives were questioning at least one suspect Monday evening, but no charges had been filed. Weis said there was progress in the case but declined to be more specific.

Standing across the street from Stroger Hospital, Weis confirmed that Valadez had died. He said Valadez had been on life support and his family had donated his organs. Weis called Valadez, a "great officer'' who had distinguished himself in his three-year career.

"At the beginning of his career he distinguished himself on a team working on special missions," Weis said.

Weis said Valadez' killing will have a "devastating effect" on the officer's friends, family and co-workers and all Chicago residents.

"[It] should have a devastating effect upon all members and citizens of the City of Chicago," said Weis. "This type of violence can befall a Chicago police officer out doing his job sends a clear message about how dangerous it is in some of our communities."

Family members would not comment on the officer's death but Weis said that Valadez' brother, sister and fiancee are all police officers. He said while the family knew the risks that come with the job he said the family was, "devastated."

Valadez's brother is assigned to the Ogden District and a sister assigned to the evidence and recovered property section. The dead officer's girlfriend also is a police officer who works in the Englewood District, the source said.

Weis refused to comment on the investigation but said police have, "some people we are looking at."

"I'm very confident in the investigative leads that we have right now,'' said Weis.

Valadez's shooting occurred about 12:30 a.m. in the 6000 block of South Hermitage Avenue as the three-year veteran and his partner were investigating a report of shots fired, Weis said at a news conference earlier today after the shooting.

The shots were fired from a vehicle with more than one person in it, Weis said. He refused to provide a description of the vehicle which he said was being processed by police.

Sources said investigators found the vehicle believed to be used in the homicide blocks away with spent shell casings inside that appeared to come from a .40-caliber gun, believed to be used in the shooting.

Other police sources said investigators were "zeroing in" on suspects and hoped to announce arrests soon. Weis would only say: "There are some very good investigative leads right now."

Wentworth Area detectives are investigating the case, he said.

In addition to a head wound, Valadez was wounded in the leg, Weis said.

Valadez was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition and died there later.

The officer joined the Chicago Police Department in December 2005 and was most
recently assigned to the Englewood District, police said. Valadez earned a department commendation and 22 honorable mentions.

Investigators recovered shell casings at the scene. Several teams were stationed along Hermitage between 62nd and 60th Streets, including near the field at the southeast corner of Charles W. Earle Elementary School and in an alley in the 6000 block between Hermitage and Wood Street.

Valadez and his partner never let up on assignments and stayed hours after their midnight shift to finish the job, said Englewood Cmdr. Keith Calloway.

Calloway recalled seeing Valadez a few weeks ago at 10 a.m., three hours after his shift had ended, as he worked on paperwork to get a suspected carjacker charged. "These guys never really got tired," Calloway said.

"They'd run from hot car to hot car. Just hardworking and dedicated."

Valadez had an outgoing personality and was warm and well-liked, Calloway said.

As reporters converged on Valadez's neighborhood after his shooting, neighbors said they had heard about the tragedy.

Neighbor Julia Gonzalez, 39, said she had a sinking feeling when she saw the reporters and noticed the police car in front of the officer's home. She said the officer moved into the area about a year ago. She described him as friendly and a "good neighbor."

She said that he assisted her in getting aid to an injured rabbit she had on her property. She said the officer often worked on his home with his father, and she often saw him leave for work in the morning.

"I felt safe living next door because he is a police officer," said Gonzalez. "I pray for him."

At Stroger Hospital earlier today, about 30 people -- a mixture of friends and police officers -- gathered outside the emergency room.

Men embraced other men, crying and talking in Spanish. One woman, who identified herself as a friend, had a single tear streaming down her face. She and two others declined to talk. 

Our hearts and prayers go out to officer Valdez's family.   

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