Cop shoots, kills Glendale Heights man suspected of stealing vehicle

Car reportedly drove toward Forest Park officer as driver tried to flee scene in Oak Park

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By BOB UPHUES and THOMAS VOGEL

Senior Editor and Contributing Reporter

The Forest Park police officer involved in the Feb. 3 shooting death of a 26-year-old Glendale Heights man on Feb. 3 will be put on administrative leave as the Illinois State Police conduct an investigation into the incident, according to Forest Park Deputy Police Chief Michael Keating. 

"He's a seasoned officer," Keating said. "He's not new." 

Keating said it's standard protocol to place officers involved in shooting incidents on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is leading that investigation.

The man who was fatally shot has been identified as Marco A. Gomez of the 100 block of South Waters Edge in Glendale Heights. The incident took place around 6 p.m. on Feb 3 near the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in Oak Park. 

Gomez allegedly stole a car in Glendale Heights and was spotted driving west through Chicago and Oak Park. A Forest Park police officer eventually spotted the car as it pulled alongside him at the intersection of Harlem and Jackson Boulevard, Keating said. As Gomez tried to pull a U-turn and head east on Jackson Boulevard, the officer got out of his car, got in front of the fleeing car and ordered Gomez to stop, Keating said. Gomez reportedly drove toward the officer, who "fearing for his life" then fired on the car, killing Gomez, according to police. 

"Everybody was so boxed in," Keating said. "There were so many cars there."  

Keating said Gomez was the only person in the stolen vehicle. There were no other passengers. 

The Illinois State Police did not return phone calls requesting comment. 

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A Forest Park police officer fatally shot a subject inside a vehicle being driven toward him in the vicinity of Harlem Avenue and Jackson Boulevard on Friday at about 6:20 p.m., according to a press release. The officer was attempting to stop the vehicle, which was reported stolen and was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Chicago a short time earlier, police said.

Forest Park police received a report that a vehicle stolen in Glendale Heights was seen by Chicago police heading westbound in the area of Adams Street and Central Avenue, where it had been involved in a hit-and-run crash. A short time later, the vehicle was spotted going westbound on Jackson Boulevard, heading toward Oak Park.

A Forest Park police officer on patrol in the area of Harlem and Jackson reported seeing the vehicle stopped at the traffic light at that intersection. According to the press release, the vehicle turned back eastbound on Jackson Boulevard in an attempt to elude the officer, who approached the vehicle on foot.

When the vehicle began driving toward the police officer, who was standing in front of the vehicle, the officer reported fearing for his life and firing his weapon into the vehicle, killing a subject inside.

It is unclear if there were other subjects inside the vehicle. Because the incident is a police-involved shooting, the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is leading the investigation.

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Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 14th, 2017 6:02 PM

@ Bruce Kline : Having the State Police investigate is about as honest as you can get. They are supposedly beholden to no one in Cook County and just might go out of their to prove the case one way or another. Chicago and DOJ is completely different. Not all the Chicago Officers need all the training. Re training all the officers is time consuming wasteful and the officers who need training might have that training delayed. Chicago knows its bad officers so start with that. The Chicago PD contract needs to be looked at. Patronage was not addressed in the DOJ report. People use clout to get on, then suffer with jobs in poorer neighborhoods because cream puff jobs are gone, and they take it out on the public. Talk is of lowering standards which is a disaster. Raise the standards so better applicants will apply, and will break the the "you know me, so let me go" standard. It is a mess and the worst is yet to come.

Tom Braam  

Posted: February 11th, 2017 6:22 AM

What exactly is the state police integrity unit? And how do we monitor the process? Cynical? Ha!

Carol Ann  

Posted: February 10th, 2017 6:36 AM

And now comes the family with the attorney.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 9:03 PM

Brian: Good question. I don't have an answer. You know I read the executive summary of the DOJ Report on the CPD (I don't know if I can make thru all 160 pages). I was expecting an absurd whitewash, but it seemed plausible to me as a layperson in these matters. And I am definitely one to give the police the benefit of the doubt. So I'm at a loss. What's your take on these "expert" reviews and "best practice" nostrums?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 12:57 AM

@ Brue Kline: Asked clumsily, what or how would make you un skeptical.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 11:42 PM

Bill: Good. Given the political furies at our doorstep we will see how dispassionate the review is. Count me skeptical.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 9:20 PM

Which is what I just said, Bruce. . .What's your point? The use of lethal force often, if not most times, take place in a time frame of mere seconds. Which is why there needs to be a thorough, dispassionate review of what happened. So that, one, people can have faith in law enforcement and two, inappropriate use of force- when it happens, and I've made it clear here I don't believe it did- can be dealt with.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 9:02 PM

Bill, what is your point? The rectrospectropsope has 20 / 20 vision. What might be crystal clear to the "citizens" afforded weeks of time to analyze the situation - looking back - might not be so clear within the time constraints of mere seconds going forward. I see this dilemma all the time in peer review in the medical profession.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 8:05 PM

The Illinois State Police will issue a report in due time. The Review should ask for a copy, let readers know what the finding of facts are, and get comment from the FPPD. That cop had just a second to make a decision about what was happening. We- citizens, police and elected officials- have a good deal more time to consider what did happen.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 11:26 AM

Once you steal a car, have a hit and run accident with it ruining who knows how many other cars and things, then try to run down at least one a person, you have endangered enough people. I am sure the cop didn't go to work looking forward to shooting anyone that shift and he probably feels really bad about having to be the one to put down this menace. Not celebrating anyones death here, but its good to have this one off the streets.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 8:27 PM

'Once more into the breach dear fiends, once more, or close up the wall with the enemy dead. In peace, there is nothing so becoming in a man or woman as modesty, stillness or humility. But when the blast of evil blows in our ears , then we must imitate the actions of the tiger, stiffen the sinew, summon up the blood , disguise fair nature with hard favored rage then lend the eye a terrible aspect. For we, we few, we happy few, this noble band of brothers and sisters, for whoever shares this trial with me today shall be my brother and sister forever." Do not support your local police. Support your good local police. Are there more bad cops or bad citizens? Walk with the brave or hide on the sideline and whine. Apology to the Bard

DL Price  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 7:21 PM

http://www.wfaa.com/news/arlington-police-officer-ran-over-twice-suspect-shot-killed-during-traffic-stop/395763066 Tom Braam, you contradicted yourself and expose your own bias much more than I have time to document. I wrote a nice, detailed post pointing these things out only to exit before all my comments loaded. You are absolutely correct in that we don't have the facts out. What astounds me is you refused to allow your admittance of not having the facts to interfere with your bias, prejudice, preconceived notions and reliance on "google" information to tell all that needs to be known about Forest Park Police. I pray for the suspect's family as they grieve his loss but I also pray for the officer and his family in dealing with the long lasting affects killing a person can have on an individual. You support blind faith, just not in the police. You are in fact uplifting blind faith for the suspect without having any access to the facts.

Tom Braam  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 6:14 PM

blind faith in the police and the celebratory comments are hateful and disgusting. these people bully and try and shame those who have deep concerns over the death of a human being that has a family. i wonder if this was their kid, or someone they knew how they'd react. i'm pretty sure we know the answer. this citizen blue shield doesn't protect anyone in the long run. the facts will surface eventually, more than likely, reluctantly.

Christos Haralambidis  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 3:03 PM

Thank you officer. Thank you.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 6:37 AM

This Officer should receive a Medal, outstandiing police work. Shoot first !

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 5th, 2017 2:36 PM

Paragraph 4: "When the vehicle began driving toward the police officer, who was standing in front of the vehicle, the officer reported fearing for his life and firing his weapon into the vehicle, killing a subject inside." Driving your vehicle toward a person standing in front of the vehicle could be deemed using deadly force toward the person standing in front of the vehicle. Especially aggravated with all the incidents prior to the shooting.I agree not all the facts are in yet and stealing a car is not a death penalty case, however this incident should be judged on the totality of all the known facts and circumstances. Comments are made on information available at this time.

James Peters from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2017 11:26 AM

Simply, "Thank You" Forest Park police for protecting average, local law-abiding residents in the area.

Brian Souders  

Posted: February 5th, 2017 10:03 AM

I'll stay away from the specifics of this incident as we don't know exactly what happened. But it's scary to see comments here that basically say that stealing a car, or doing a hit and run, or even running from the police deserves the death penalty. (Our laws say otherwise.) A few commenters are even saying that the driver deserved to die based on the POSSIBILITY he could commit a crime in the future. Another one argues it's best that the officer killed the driver so the police department would not be criticised in the future. This is scarier to me than the seeming uptick in crime in Oak Park.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 5:31 PM

Thank you Bridgett, for your apology. I have a personal relation with cops. My uncle, Edwin Peppard. who raised his younger brother, my late father, has his star retired on the wall at Chicago Police HQ at 35th and State, for death in the line of duty. It was decades after the event, since he wasn't chasing criminals at the time, and only that counted then. Instead, he was first on the scene at a fire at a four-story tenement near St. Ignatius, and called it in. The papers at the time described it as full of "Mexicans and Negros". He went in three times to get people out. He didn't come out the third time, and dropped to his death, after hanging onto a window ledge, with flames licking at him, because the Fire Department had its nets tangled. He died the next morning. Supt. Cline went back and adjusted for deaths that didn't involve criminals. I met Supt. Cline at the time of the badge retirement, and told him it was not just for my uncle, but for today's existing officers, who will now realize that they will not be forgotten. The second Mayor Daley was also there, as was a senior officer from the Fire.Dept. About a dozen other badges were retired, and one of the family members of another officer told me at the reception that my uncle's death was the most horrific one in any of the many somber eulogies that day. My cousin, his son of only three months' at the time of his father's death, pinned the badge on the wall, with Cline and Daley standing by. Much as we in the suburbs may sometimes malign Chicago, it knows how to show respect and class in ways that we should learn from.

Jim Bowman  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 3:52 PM

Tom B: simple google search tells me all I have to know about word meanings and spellings, dates of birth of well known people, etc., but told me nothing about Forest Park police that denoted bad reputation, including my google of "forest park il police bad reputation." Gimme a link and I can take from there. So far, nothing.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 12:43 PM

I apologize for my original comment. While it saddens me that someone died last night, it would be arrogant of me to have any idea of what happened, since I was not there. I appreciate all officers willing to put their lives at risk in order to protect and serve our communities. I don't think anyone of them takes it lightly to have to use potentially lethal force.

Tom Braam from oak park   

Posted: February 4th, 2017 11:12 AM

a simple google search will tell U all U need to know about the Forest Park police department. What we don't need are sycophant apologists.

DL Price  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 11:11 AM

Tom Braam, one day I am sure you will encounter a situation where you act in a manner others question and judge without the liberty of being in your position. I hope you remember your words today. The killing of the driver is senseless to you. The theft of the car is not senseless. THE HIT AND RUN IN CHICAGO is not senseless. The thought of the offender accelerating the car towards the officer is not senseless BUT the reaction of the person who is responsible for addressing this individual is senseless. Maybe that officer could have just moved out the way. We don't know because we are not standing in the way of that car accelerating towards us right now. But another maybe is if that car took off and struck ANOTHER car and/or pedestrian, hurting someone after that cop just moved out the way, someone would still be looking to sue the police department for not doing more to stop the car. Right now there is a lawsuit against Chicago for chasing a car in an armed robbery, where the car crashed and two of the robbers were killed in the crash. I do believe our ears swing in pendulums. We will experience the results of our cry for police to step back efforts a bit. We will not like some of the results. Then we will say "well why didn't they try to...."

Michele Carr  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 10:22 AM

Reading about police shootings in the neighborhood really put me in the mood to shop for Valentines gifts in the area. Thanks Wednesday Journal for the great editorial call to have both of those on the same email blast! You're VDay advertisers will be thrilled. And thank you Forest Park police for protecting us!! You are brave heroes putting your life on the line for civilians every single day.

Maureen Muccianti Harnett from Forest Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 9:24 AM

Tom Braam - I have been hit by a car. There is no time to think about moving when a car is coming towards you. By the way, the Forest Park Police are the best in the area. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 7:35 AM

I am grateful to the first responders who put their lives in danger every day to serve and protect us...The tragedy is that some people choose a life of crime instead of realizing their full potential and living their lives in a manner that does not put others st risk of harm or death.

Mak Custard from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 7:04 AM

Tragic that anyone losses their life... There's also no reason to stoke a fire that isn't there yet. Let's wait until all the facts are sussed out before we jump to prosecutor, jury, and the judge's gavel.

Ernie Morales from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 7:04 AM

The Officers weapon was more than likely drawn and pointed directly at the perp but he decided to hit the gas instead of the brake. Bang! End of story!

Carol Ann  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 6:28 AM

This officer not only saved himself, but the moron in the stolen car could have killed innocent people by fleeing from the police. Thank you officer.

Jim Bowman  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 6:27 AM

Patricia O'S: I endorse your "horrible."

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 6:15 AM

I don't think the first reaction should be to assume the police officer did the wrong thing. It's easy to armchair quarterback when you're not out there trying to protect the public and your own life. I'm not saying that police never do anything wrong, but I really think it's horrible to immediately jump to that conclusion.

Tom Braam from Oak park   

Posted: February 4th, 2017 5:35 AM

Seems as if the officer could have simply moved, possibly avoiding another senseless killing. Forest Park police don't exactly have the best reputation. This is going to cost them.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 3:09 AM

Yes, the driver of the stolen auto turned around to elude the officer. The officer said the driver was driving towards the officer. The officer placed himself in front of the eluding vehicle in order to stop the vehicle. That is what good cops do in order to apprehend someone. Sometimes good cops who are better shots shoot and kill offenders who are trying to injure or kill cops, You play stupid games, you win stuped prizes.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 1:35 AM

The driver turned around to elude the officer. But the officer said the driver was driving towards him (and he feared for his life and shot him multiple times). Okay...

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