A senior Chicago police commander was shot dead Tuesday in a brazen early-afternoon shooting that has even shocked a city where gun violence has become the norm.
Commander Paul Bauer, 53, was shot multiple times by a man reported by the Chicago Tribune to be a four-time felon known to police who was wearing body armor at the time of the attack, around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Bauer, a married father survived by a 13-year-old daughter, is believed to be the most senior police officer to be shot and killed in Chicago since the 1980s, and the first officer of any rank to be killed in seven years.
The shooting happened inside the city’s downtown business and government district after police spotted a man acting suspiciously. The man fled when he was approached by cops, and was later confronted by Bauer. The commander was shot multiple times in the subsequent struggle.
Citing a number of sources, local media reported the shooter is known to be a 44-year-old former prisoner with four previous convictions to his name dating back to the mid-1990s.
In 1998, the suspect was reportedly sentenced to 16 years in prison after being charged with armed robbery. The man has not been named as no one has yet been charged for the shooting.
Bauer, leader of the Near North District of the city, had recently spoken to local media about his frustration over not being able to do enough to remove repeat offenders, including robbers, from Chicago’s streets.
Speaking in November 2017, he said: “We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family. We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”
Multiple tributes have been paid to Bauer following his death.
Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Eddie Johnson told colleagues in an email: “Take the time to spend with your family and friends and keep Commander Bauer’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Any loss of life in this city is tragic, but today’s different.”
Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins said: “He was the best police commander in the 18th District during the 20 years I lived there. He loved the job. He had a passion for the job. He was a good man. We lost one of the best today. It’s devastating. I don’t have words.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement: “His death is a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all."
A statement from the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation said: “The idea that Paul would act so unselfishly and would sacrifice his own safety for the safety of the people of Chicago and his fellow officers comes as no surprise to those of us who knew him.”