Chicago mourns police commander fatally shot at Thompson Center



The city of Chicago is in mourning after the shooting death of a well-loved and respected Chicago police commander and charges against the suspect could come as soon as Wednesday night.

Commander Paul Bauer, 53, was shot and killed assisting tactical officers at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Tuesday afternoon.

A man in custody for shooting was seen being loaded into a police car wearing a bulletproof vest.

Just before the shooting, officers spotted a suspicious man near State Street and Wacker Drive, but the man ran when they tried to stop him.

Commander Bauer was near the Thompson Center and heard the description on his radio. He ran in to find him. When he encountered the suspect in a stairwell, he was shot multiple times.

The I-Team has learned that the suspect, a 44-year-old South Side man whose name has not been released yet, has a 24-year history of drug, gun, and armed robbery offenses and he spent 16 years in state prison.

A Chicago police spokesman said at 7 a.m. Wednesday that charges against the suspect are expected in the next 36 hours and could come as soon as Wednesday night.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson met with his top command staff at a meeting at police headquarters, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel attending.

Rows of police officers and firefighters stood silent Tuesday night as Commander Bauer’s procession drove past from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to the medical examiner’s office.

Mayor Emanuel was emotional as he consoled the men and women of the 18th Police District.

“I ask each of us, in the days ahead, as you see Chicago’s officers doing their job, reach out to them as a member of your family, thank them. This is like a gut punch to the police department, a gut punch to the city,” Emanuel said.

WATCH: Police procession for Cmdr. Bauer

Meanwhile, CPD tweeted out that Superintendent Johnson pledges to take care of Commander Bauer’s family and that police officers will step in for him and take his young daughter to school from here on in.

“Moving forward, let’s not forget the legacy of Commander Paul Bauer. He gave his life for the protection of this city, and it just goes to show you day in and day out police officers run to trouble not away from it, and I think it’s important that we recognize that and again as a city i just ask you all for your thoughts and prayers for the Bauer family,” Johnson said.

Chicago police officers came back out to the Thompson Center Wednesday morning with a surveillance picture of the suspect in hand, talking to people returning to work and trying to get more information on the man who they believe shot and killed Commander Bauer.

“They asked me have I ever seen this guy and they showed me a photo of this guy and I said, ‘No, I never seen him before,'” said Will Morrow.

After the shooting, the area around the Thompson Center was shut down and buildings were evacuated. Everything was back open Wednesday morning, but there’s a sense of sadness.

“It is a cloud that hangs over, you know, nobody wants to have their family member killed or have anybody killed period,” said Jermaine Powell.

On a nearby building overlooking the Thompson Center Plaza, notes saying “Thank you CPD” are taped to the windows and a small memorial is now growing for a man who made the ultimate sacrifice. Christina Chan left flowers on her way to work.

“I left some roses, red roses. I just felt like it symbolizes the love that he left behind with his family,” she said.


Meanwhile, there is a growing memorial outside Commander Bauer’s 18th District, with the flag outside at half-staff and memorial bunting.

Many officers were visibly shaken as they escorted their commander to the medical examiner’s office.

The commander left an indelible mark on the community and the police force. During his 31-year-career with CPD, Commander Bauer worked extensively with the mounted patrol. He commanded the mounted patrol during some of Chicago’s biggest events, like the Stanley Cup celebration for the Blackhawks in 2013.

But beyond his police work, many said he was very passionate about the community he served.

“There was never a time when he hasn’t answered a call, taken a call or done whatever he could on behalf of this community, so we are going to sorely miss him,” said LaSalle Street Church Executive Pastor Randall K. Blakery.

Wednesday, Bauer would have been at Eva Café, hosting his monthly chat, Coffee with a Commander.

“People would come to him with issues, he’d talk to them about that, or people would just ask how their life is going, you know. He seemed pretty interested in everybody,” said Tucker Brookshire of Eva’s Café.

Those who knew him say he was passionate about connecting with the community which was evident in the outpouring of support at the 18th District, where several people came by this morning to drop off food and cards

“I’ve met Commander Bauer several times, a wonderful guy and he cared greatly about the 18th District, so just spread a little love to them this morning. It’s just heartbreaking,” said Hollis Hanover.

“It’s a very small thing, I wish we could have done more but just wanted to let them know that the community is thinking of them and cares about them,” said Maureen Smithe.

Community leaders say Commander Bauer went above and beyond his duties as a commander and did what he could to connect with residents in his district.

Police officers will be wearing black bands over their badges in honor of Commander Bauer and purple bunting was put up at Chicago Police Headquarters. Mayor Emanuel has ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff.

Aldermen Brian Hopkins, Michelle Smith, Brendan Reilly and Scott Waguespack released a statement saying, “We are heartbroken to learn about the tragic death of 18th District Police Commander Paul Bauer this afternoon at the Thompson Center while assisting a tactical unit. A career police officer loved by the rank-and-file in the District and throughout the City, his open-door, no-nonsense approach to policing helped shift the culture of policing in his district.

A long serving veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Commander Bauer came to the 18th District in 2016, and quickly made his presence and leadership known. He was a brave police officer, and his actions today in assisting officers chasing a suspect shows his passion and commitment to the job, and in keeping the safety and security of our city.

Commander Bauer’s intuition and understanding of the complexities of policing, combined with his open and honest approach in reporting on the issues faced in the District helped better combat the challenges faced on the streets. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have known Commander Bauer, and to have had him leading efforts to keep the District safe.

This afternoon we stood vigil, along with hundreds of first responders, at Northwestern Medical Center to mourn his loss.

In closing, today’s events serve as a painful reminder of the challenges faced by his brothers and sisters in the Chicago Police Department.

We ask that you keep Commander Bauer, his family, friends and the entire Chicago Police Department in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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