Video shows a retired Chicago police officer exchanging gunfire with a man trying to steal his neighbor’s car — something the former cop says he never experienced in his nearly six decades on the Austin block.
The retired officer, 72, said he happened to be near his window early Wednesday morning when he saw a person pointing two guns at his neighbor in the 300 block of North Mayfield Avenue.
“He saw his neighbor, his friend and a man who is like a son to him — he stepped up and protected me to the fullest,” the neighbor said.
“I grabbed my weapon and ran outside,” the retired officer told the Sun-Times. “And when I ran outside, I heard (the neighbor) was saying, ‘Don’t kill me.’ And I heard the fellow with the gun say, ‘No, I’m gonna kill you.’”
The neighbor had been leaving for work when he noticed the window of his wife’s SUV had been smashed and someone was inside, according to police. He walked up, and the man pulled a gun and demanded his wallet and the keys to his Jeep, police said.
The retired officer stepped on his porch and sprinted to the end of his driveway, the video shows.
“He (the neighbor) saw me out of the corner of his eye, and he knew that I was gonna help him out, and I told him to duck,” the retired officer said.
A “gun battle” followed as the retired officer and the robber exchanged gunfire, the retired officer said. A ShotSpotter detector recorded 17 shots.
The robber jumped into the Jeep but crashed nearby, in the 600 block of North Waller Avenue, according to police. He remains at large.
The retired officer was grazed in his left thumb and taken to a hospital in good condition, according to police. He said the gunman may also have been wounded.
Shell casings were found in the Jeep, and the neighbor’s wallet was found in a nearby yard. The neighbor was not hurt, according to police.
“The vehicle was totaled but I’m thankful for (my) life,” the neighbor said. “You don’t get a second life.”
The retired officer said he has lived on the block since the 1960s and has never experienced anything like this.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “We’ve got a church on the corner, maybe three houses on one side of the block and maybe four on the other side. That’s it. Families on the block have been here for years. … I mean many, 20 to 30 years.”
The neighbor’s family has also been on the block for decades and formed a close relationship with the retired officer.
“I love him, he’s not only a friend but like a father figure,” the neighbor said. “He does a lot for the community. Me and him are always talking…sitting on the porch and laughing and talking that’s what we do. I appreciate him very much.”
Mayor Brandon Johnson lives less than a mile away in Austin, he and his neighbor noted.
“Mayor Brandon Johnson stays a couple blocks over so I hope he gets wind of it and hopefully something can be done about it,” the neighbor said.
Contributing: Rosemary Sobol