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Thanksgiving Day shopping got off to a frightening start at a Kohl’s Romeoville store. Police responding to a call about shoplifters shot a man who trapped the officer with his car door as he tried to get away. He was taken to the hospital. His passenger and a third man inside the store were arrested. NBC’s Regina Waldroup reports.
A suburban Chicago police officer was released from a hospital Friday after being dragged by a car driven by fleeing Thanksgiving Day shoplifting suspects, one of whom was charged with attempted murder.
Another police officer fired at the 52-year-old driver, who remained hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his arm following the Thursday night incident at a Kohl's department store in Romeoville, the Romeoville Police Department said in a statement. The suburb is about 30 miles southwest of Chicago.
The store reported suspected shoplifters to police just after 10 p.m. Thursday. As a patrol car approached the store, one suspect bolted out of a door, jumped into a waiting car and closed the door on the pursuing officer's arm. The driver then drove off — hauling the officer with him.
"The officer was dragged quite some distance," Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey said at a news conference.
Another officer repeatedly yelled at the driver to halt, then fired three or four shots, striking the driver with one bullet in the left arm and forcing him to stop, police said. The officer who became stuck in the car door injured his right shoulder.
"We turned the corner and you could someone was down on the ground and there was glass all over the floor," said witness Noel Borges.
Authorities later identified the passenger as Robert Russell, 51, of Joliet, who was charged with attempted murder, according to the Will County Sheriff's office website. The driver had not been charged as of Friday afternoon. A third man arrested in the store, Gerald Chamberlain, 28, of Joliet, was charged with felony theft.
The online sheriff's records did not include lawyers for either Russell or Chamberlain. There was no answer at a telephone number for a Robert Russell in Joliet. And there was no listing for a Gerald Chamberlain in the city.
There were no reports of any injuries to shoppers hunting for deals ahead of Black Friday.
Kohl's was still open Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, with people shopping inside while a small portion of a fire lane was taped off outside with several police cars nearby.
"These things can happen anywhere," said Turvey. "There's not way of predicting it. It's rare, but they do happen."
A spokeswoman Sydney Hofer for Menomonee Falls, Wis.,-based Kohl's declined any detailed comment in an email Friday.
"We are cooperating with the authorities leading the investigation and are referring all media inquiries to police," Hofer said.
Monica Fernandez, 41, of Romeoville, told the Sun-Times she had just pulled into the lot and was getting ready to shop Thursday night when she saw police chasing a man and heard gunshots.
"I ducked under my seat," Fernandez said. "It's crazy. Romeoville doesn't have a lot of crime like that."