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Man charged after shooting Chicago police officer in “ambush”

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A man is charged with attempted murder after shooting a Chicago police officer responding to a domestic incident Friday morning in the Little Village neighborhood. 

Jalen Vales, 27, is charged with two felony counts of attempted first-degree murder and one felony count of aggravated battery to a peace officer. He is due in bond court Saturday. 

Around 8:30 a.m., officers responded to a domestic disturbance at the Taylor Street Apartments at 1342 W. Taylor St., an apartment building that also houses a Chicago Public Library branch on the ground floor.

Police were called to the Little Italy building by a mother who received a frantic text message from her daughter. The text read: “Call u please Call the police. Right here moma. It’s ok. 1342 W. Taylor.”

The mother, who did not want to be identified, told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot she knew the text was serious – and immediately called 911 to get police there.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said as officers arrived, as soon as they got off an elevator inside the building, a shooter opened fire on them. 

The superintendent said investigators were reviewing video footage of the incident, which made it clear officers were ambushed.

“This wasn’t a matter of police tactics. They were ambushed, clearly. The offender had intentions to harm them,” Brown said. “The best laid plans don’t account for being ambushed by someone who’s intending to harm you as soon as you get off an elevator.

Police did not return fire, but the suspect was taken into custody and a gun was recovered at the scene, Brown said. 

Police found and arrested the suspected shooter on Washburne Avenue, just a few blocks away from the original scene.    

Charges were pending Friday night.

A University of Illinois at Chicago police officer who also responded to the scene helped take the wounded officer to Stroger Hospital of Cook County. The officer was in serious condition with multiple gunshot wounds, according to Brown. The officer was shot in the torso and several times in the arm, according to Brown.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “We are asking for prayers for this family, for this officer and his family, and we’re hoping and praying for a full recovery.”

The superintendent said the officer was alert and talking at the hospital.

“His family is very grateful that he’s recovering, but there’s a lot of recovery that needs to happen. He had serious injuries, and he will need a lot of prayers to fully recover,” he said.

We know he spoke to his wife, as well as to Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara — who reported the officer was in a lot of pain and will need thoughts and prayers going forward.

“He’s stable. He’s alert. He’s going in for some exploratory surgery to see if there’s any damage that they can’t see right now,” Catanzara said. “It was a very lucky morning – that’s all we can say.”

The officer, who is assigned to the 12th (Near West) District, has been on the job for 15 years.

Catanzara said the officer did not unholster his weapon – as he simply did not have time to react. He said thankfully, the offender’s attempt to kill the officer was unsuccessful. 

“The elevator doors opened, and the offender just started shooting. He tried to kill him,” Catanzara said. “Thankfully he was not successful.”

Brown said the shooting serves as an example of the dangers that officers face on the job every day.

As we have been reporting on CBS 2, violence against police officers has skyrocketed in Chicago lately – with more officers shot and shot at. Officers on bike patrol were shot at just a few days ago in Trumbull Park on the city’s Far South Side.

The officer shot on Friday was the sixth Chicago Police officer shot this year.

“It hasn’t been more dangerous in decades, but it also highlights the bravery and courage that our officers exhibit every day to include their dedication and commitment to protecting the people of Chicago,” Brown said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed the superintendent’s sentiments, saying officers put their lives on the line every day, particularly when they respond to domestic incidents.

“Every single day, on every watch, brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department put on the uniform, their badge, and go out to protect each and every one of us,” she said.

Lightfoot said there has been a “significant surge” in domestic violence-related shootings and homicides over the last two years. Domestic homicides with a gun have increased 125% since 2019, she said.  Compared with the same point last year, domestic homicides are up 23.5%.

“This is a major challenge that we must meet as a community; not the police alone, not the mayor’s office alone, this is an issue that we’ve got to meet as a community. There are a huge number of advocates that are out there all across our city who stand ready to aid people that are suffering from domestic violence,” she said.

The mayor urged anyone who is living in an unsafe domestic situation to call 311 to get assistance from the city.

Brown said the shooter is a convicted felon, but he would not elaborate on the man’s criminal history. Brown said he doesn’t know if the man has any history of mental illness.

Sources said the shooter slit his wrists in front of police after the shooting. Brown confirmed the man had an injury to his wrists, but said “that’s all we know at this point about the offender.”

The suspect was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment.

At least two other people were in the apartment where the domestic incident occurred, according to Brown, but no one else in the building was injured in the shooting. 

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