Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chicago Police Officer Killed in Park Manor

Story courtesy of CBS News

Chicago Police Officer Mike Bailey, 62, was shot and killed outside his home in the Park Manor neighborhood on July 18, 2010, after returning home from a shift guarding Mayor Richard M. Daley's home.

He spent 20 years on the job and was ready to retire in a few weeks. But Sunday night, fallen Chicago officer Mike Bailey is being remembered. Just hours after signing off from duty on the mayor's home protection detail, Bailey was shot and killed.

It's devastating for many, and not just for Bailey's family, but the entire police force. Men and women are now coping with the third shooting death of an off-duty officer in the last two months.

A long line of police cruisers traveled a far too familiar path Sunday morning, escorting the body of slain officer Michael Bailey from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to the medical examiner's office for a murder investigation.

"Words cannot express the shock and outrage and sorrow we feel at the loss of a Chicago police officer. This is the third brave officer killed since May," said Assistant Police Superintendent Beatrice Cuello.

For much of the day, the area in front of Bailey's Park Manor home was busy with detectives collecting clues from a street littered with bullet casings. As many as three guns were found at the scene as family members like John Holmes try to cope.

"Everyone is sad --- and this happens too frequently," said Holmes, who is the cousin of Bailey's wife.

Officer Bailey spent the night on detail guarding Mayor Dailey's home. At 6 a.m., still in uniform, Bailey returned to his own house, cleaning out the new Buick he purchased for his retirement next month. Police sources say that's when as many as three suspects opened fire in an attempted robbery of the 62-year-old near the intersection of 74th Street and Evans Avenue. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died at about 6:40 a.m.

The officer -- still in uniform-- managed to fire his duty weapon, but it's unclear whether anyone was wounded.

"He was coming home from work," Ald. Freddrena Lyle (6th) said. "He was out there shining up his new car and somebody accosted him. How do you convince people to stay in a community when you have armed police officers shot down? It's devastating... It's like a war out here."

"The sadness is that we have laws on the books to stop this, but people have no fear for the consequences of what they do," said Holmes.

Neighbors said they knew Bailey as 'Big Mike,' the vice president of their block club who'd stop for a cigarette outside his home after a shift. He was looking forward to his retirement, they said.

"Big Mike was the guy who kept this block straight," neighbor Faia Malik, said. "This neighborhood has fallen. This is random violence — everybody knew who Big Mike was."

Longtime friend Stephanie Tatum, said Bailey was godfather to her two sons.

"I don't believe it. You never think it would have happened," Tatum said. "He made it this long. They are just killing cops like they are crazy."

"He was a wonderful man he was like a father of the block, he was wonderful," said neighbor Kiana McMahn.

She said Bailey's kindness included teaching many here to confront stress through meditation. Others remember him as president of the Community Block Watch Association, trying to keep others safe in his off-duty life.

"He was a wonderful man; he was concerned about his community," said neighbor Lillie Nix, who served on the community watch with him.

"I couldn't believe it. I screamed, I cried," neighbor Guylidia Hester said. "I wanted to go up to him but I couldn't."

Now she just wants to be able to comfort his grieving wife and console her over the loss of a man she calls a sweet angel.

"I'm scared to even look at her right now," Hester said. "I can't. It's so emotional right now."

Outside the hospital where Bailey died Sunday, members of the force gathered to show their respect in yet another instance of a murdered colleague.

"The frequency in which we are experiencing this is disturbing but it does go along with what's happening in our communities and it's unfortunate," said Mark Donahue, president of the police officer's union.

Daley was stunned and outraged when he heard of the officer's death.

"This is a tragic, stunning reminder of the senseless violence that stalks too many of our neighborhoods. Another Chicago Police officer gunned down, this time just weeks before leaving a long career of protecting Chicago. It's absolutely outrageous," Daley said. "Our prayers go out to the family of Officer Bailey. I knew him; he was a good man. He did not deserve this."

Police sources say Bailey's son, who was home at the time, tried to run after the suspects. They are said to have driven away in a tan Ford pickup truck possibly with bullet holes on the side. Detectives are searching for a black male, between the ages of 19 and 21, with "very short hair," and a tall, slim build. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a brown belt.

Independent Police Review Authority and Calumet Area detectives are investigating. If anyone has information, contact police at (312) 747-8272.

Bailey is the third Chicago Police officer to be shot and killed since May. On July 7, Officer Thor Soderberg was shot and killed with his own weapon outside a police facility at 61st and Racine.

And late on the night of May 19, Officer Thomas Wortham IV was shot and killed outside of his parents' home as four men tried to steal his motorcycle.

Sunday morning, those fallen officers and thousands of others killed in the line of duty were remembered during a memorial ride.

"2010 has been a bad year for us-- Allan Haymaker, Thomas Wortham, Thor Soderberg and today Michael Bailey," said Officer Curt Kiebels of the Wheaton Police Department.

Former Police Superintendent Phil Kline lead more than 100 cyclists in a moment of silence for the latest Chicago police officer to die on Chicago's streets.

The cyclists came from all over the state to ride from police headquarters to the Gold Star Memorial honoring the more than 550 Chicago police officers killed in the history of the department. Many were fellow officers who started the ride four days earlier, more than 350 miles downstate.

"We all hope that none of us have to use the organization, but we all come together to raise awareness, to raise money, and to help those in their darkest hour when a situation like that does occur," Kline said.

Fifteen-year-old Riley Kralik knows about that darkest hour. She lived it when her uncle John Walsh was killed in Joliet six years ago. She knows how it felt then and how the love and support of other officers helped with her recovery. That's why she traveled to Chicago from her Tennessee home.
They were always there for u, so coming back and helping the new survivors grieve with everything they need makes me feel better," she said.

Several of the Illinois cops who rode across Illinois did so in honor of Officer Alex Valadez who was gunned down in June of last year. Valadez's sister, Brenda, says such support has meant everything to her family.

"It means so much to us and we want to express that same gratitude to the other families," she said.

It's what the late Thomas Wortham did for her family when he travelled with them to Washington to pay tribute to her murdered brother at a national police memorial. That was in May. Her seven-year-old son Adam made the trip and got to know Officer Wortham just days before he too was shot dead.

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