The Metra train bells at the 103rd Street stop seemed to toll somberly Tuesday morning. A procession left the South Shore line with the two Chicago police officers who were fatally struck by a train as they investigated a report of gunshots on the city’s far South Side Monday night.
Eduardo Marmolejo, 37, and Conrad Gary, 31, were pursuing a person heading toward the train tracks when they were hit shortly after 6 p.m. Monday as the commuter train passed through the area, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. Police said the officers were chasing the suspect on foot.
“There was no stop at that location so the train was probably going somewhere between 60 and 70 miles per hour,” Johnson said during a news conference.
Johnson said an individual was taken into custody and a weapon was recovered and is being questioned. He said the investigation was still in the early stages.
“You start to wonder to yourself, how much can they take? But I will tell you this though, the resolve of Chicago police officers always amazes me because I guarantee you they’re gonna strap up, put their uniforms on and go out there again tonight to keep this city safe,” he said.
Marmolejo had been with the department for 2½ years and Gary for 18 months, Johnson said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also spoke at the news conference, said the city had lost “two young men, both fathers with young families.” The two officers had a combined four years of experience with the Chicago Police Department.
“We lost people who answered the call to make Chicago a better place. We all go about our lives not thinking twice, and we can do that because of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” said the mayor.
“I think it’s really important that we put our arms around the Chicago Police Department and hold em up and support them at this critical juncture,” he said.
Chicago police use ShotSpotter technology, or sensors that monitor for the sound of gunfire and alert police. Johnson said the two officers went to the scene Monday after a ShotSpotter alert went out.
“It just highlights again how dangerous this job can be. I often say that the most dangerous thing a police officer can do is take a weapon off of an armed individual,” Johnson said.
A devastating tragedy occurred tonight at 103rd and Cottage Grove where two #ChicagoPolice officers investigating a shots fired call were struck by a passing train. Please pray for the @ChicagoCAPS05 5th district. Details to follow. pic.twitter.com/0IfXTZf2Bs— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) December 18, 2018
The train that struck the officers was operated by a commuter rail line that links northern Indiana and Chicago, according to media reports.
In 2002, Chicago police officer Benjamin Perez was fatally struck by a commuter train while conducting surveillance on narcotics activity on the city’s West Side.
Two other Chicago officers besides Marmolejo and Gary were killed in the line of duty this year.
Officer Samuel Jimenez was killed in a shootout last month after he chased a gunman inside a hospital on Chicago’s South Side . The shooter also killed two other people — his ex-fiancee who was an emergency room doctor and a pharmacy resident — before taking his own life.
And in February, Cmdr. Paul Bauer was fatally shot while pursuing a suspect in the Loop business district.
“I think it’s really important that we put our arms around the Chicago Police Department and hold them up and support them at this critical juncture, because we are so dependent on their professionalism and their sense of duty,” Emanuel said Monday night.
Associated Press contributed to this report. Adapted for Web by WBEZ producer Gabrielle Wright.