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    A panhandler was fatally shot near a busy River North intersection Wednesday afternoon when he opened fire on two Chicago police officers, wounding one of them in the back, police said.

    Witnesses said the chaotic scene at Chicago Avenue and Wells Street unfolded in broad daylight in an area amid nightclubs, upscale restaurants, art galleries and the Moody Bible Institute.

    Police said the two Near North District officers had taken the panhandler into custody about 4 p.m. after he had become combative, yet despite being handcuffed, the man was able to pull out a gun in the unmarked police car and shoot one officer in the back.

    The officers scurried from the vehicle as it continued to roll down the street and fired their weapons, killing the panhandler, police said.

    The unmarked police car, a Crown Victoria, came to rest partly on a sidewalk on Wells, butting against a light pole with the rear window shot out. Spent bullet shells were strewn on the street behind it.

    A weapon used by the panhandler was found at the scene, police said. The man, whose identity has not been released by officials, had numerous arrests for petty offenses, according to a law-enforcement source.

    The wounded officer, 44, a 16-year veteran, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is expected to recover, police said. The other officer, 60, a 37-year-old veteran, was treated for minor cuts to one hand at Northwestern.

    "This is a clear understanding of the uncertainty and the danger that the officers face every day," police Superintendent Jody Weis told reporters outside the hospital's emergency room. "There's probably nothing more routine than this type of investigation, and look what we have today an officer has been shot. But he's going to be fine."

    The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates shootings involving Chicago police officers, was looking into Wednesday's incident, said its spokesman, Mark Smith.

    Larry Lubell said he was sitting at the desk of his insurance business when he heard loud popping sounds. He figured that a car must be backfiring but realized it was far more serious when numerous police cars suddenly converged on the area.

    Lubell said he's never felt unsafe in the area, especially during the daytime.

    "I see homeless people around here asking for a quarter, but no one seems to bother you if you give it to them," he said.

    April Rohn, 35, a clerk at a shop near the shooting was shocked.

    "Things like this don't happen around here," she said. But "it's a big city."


    source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-officers-face

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