ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (WLS) — A Romeoville police officer is recovering and a suspect has been charged after an intensive search early Thursday morning, police said.
Police arrested the 29-year-old suspect, who was on probation and has an extensive criminal history, after an hours-long manhunt, police said.
Romeoville police said they spotted a stolen car in a neighborhood near Sierra Trail and Summerfield Drive.
When they went to investigate, the suspect, later identified as Samer Hernandez, returned to where the car was and police said he opened fire on officers, hitting one in the shoulder. The officer was transported to the hospital just after midnight.
“The news we got earlier was positive,” Romeoville Police Chief Ken Kroll said.
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Officer Dominic Thielmann remains stable at Loyola University Medical Center, police said.
Then the manhunt began. At times, a lockdown was issued for parts of the area.
Romeoville police, along with the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police, SWAT teams, K9s, drones and dozens of other agencies searched and managed to find the suspect about five hours later, around 5:45 am
“He was found less than a mile away from where the incident occurred in a backyard,” Chief Kroll said. “He was hiding in some bushes.”
They arrested the suspect without incident.
“I guess he was hiding in this corner,” said Miranda Kranenborg, in whose yard Hernandez was hiding. She spoke exclusively with ABC7 Chicago. “He came in through this little gated area back here.”
Kranenborg took cover in place as she was ordered, and had no idea that the suspect was only steps away.
“I had a cop, full gear and everything, sign up and everything, knock on my back door, which is just straight glass,” she said. “They just said they caught the guy and he was in my back yard, so kind of crazy!”
Hernandez was charged with armed robbery, stemming from a stolen vehicle incident that occurred Saturday in Romeoville.
His bond was set at $5,000,000, and he was transported to the Will County Jail.
Attempted murder charges are pending, police said.
“We got tips from the community about Ring doorbell and such, and with the help of daylight that’s how we were able to make our arrest,” Kroll said.
Residents living in the area where all this happened cannot believe what they heard.
“I heard gunshots,” resident Maricel Betz said. “I wasn’t sure it was, so I texted my neighbor. I called the police, and they said they were aware. A few minutes later, we saw 30 squad cars right here on our street.”
The normally quiet neighborhood was covered in police tape, with K9 police dogs searching the area for evidence and the alleged weapon used in the shooting.
“It was very terrifying,” Betz said. “I’m glad they got him and everyone is safe.”
Chief Kroll said the injured officer has been with the department for six years.
“It was pretty scary; we didn’t know if we should go into the basement. We saw rifles everywhere, so it was pretty scary. I couldn’t sleep at all,” Betz said.
This has been a very difficult year for first responders. The Chicago area was going through a painful time.
“Outstanding young man, one of our best officers in the department, we have a lot of positive news coming out of the hospital; we’re expecting some really good news,” Kroll said.
From March to May, four first responders were buried.
Last week, the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston took place, and, in April, two Chicago firefighters died in the line of duty in separate fires within a span of just two days.
The Chicago Police Department also continues to mourn the loss of Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso, who was shot and killed while on duty.
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