Two Chicago police officers were shot Tuesday night on the city’s South Side, officials confirmed, and three persons of interest were being questioned while an "extensive manhunt" for suspects continued through the night.
The shootings occurred shortly after 9 p.m. in the 4300 block of South Ashland Avenue in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Two plain-clothes officers were conducting a follow-up investigation to a "previous incident," Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday night. One to two vehicles pulled up next to the officers and "started firing indiscriminately" at them, Johnson said.
In a tweet early Wednesday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that officials believe the officers were shot with a "high powered weapon."
The officers were able to return fire, Johnson said. He would not elaborate on what the follow-up investigation was in relation to.
"We will get them," Johnson said, vowing to bring the shooters to justice.
The wounded officers were taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition where their conditions later stabilized, Guglielmi said. One officer was shot in the hip and arm, the other was shot in the back.
"They are doing quite well, thank God," Johnson said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a tweet called the shootings a "frightening reminder of the dangers our dedicated officers face."
Emanuel was at Stroger and spoke with the officers and their families, Johnson said.
A police helicopter was circling the area of the shootings about 9:44 p.m. and a police K-9 unit was brought in to search a car with a bullet hole in it. Two weapons have been recovered from the scene, police said.
Aldermen Patrick Thompson and Ray Lopez, of the 11th and 15th wards respectively, also spoke during the press conference and echoed a familiar rallying cry demanding tougher gun laws at the state and federal level.
“This act of senseless violence again shows that we need to do something,” Thompson said. “In Springfield, we need to pass sensible gun legislation to stop this insanity.”
Thompson said acts of violence like Tuesday night’s shooting of the two 9th District tactical officers happen “way too often.”
“I’m asking that we do something now in Springfield to curb this gun violence to help the police officers, to help them do their jobs,” he said.
Lopez, who is no stranger to the carnage left at the scene of a shooting, called the violence "unacceptable."
“The continuation of the gang and gun violence that we’ve seen is now hitting home in ways that is impacting all of us that it shouldn’t be,” Lopez said. “We’ve seen it impact our families, we’ve seen it impact our children, and now it’s impacting our police department.”
“How much more is required?” he asked. “When will we as a city, as a society and a nation stand up and say ‘enough.’”
As Lopez spoke, in the distance, a siren's scream grew louder and then faded into the night.
Fraternal Order of Police president, Kevin Graham, briefly addressed reporters saying he had spoken with the officers and their families.
“We will be keeping our prayers with them as we go through this ordeal,” he said.
Police continued to investigate Tuesday night.