Officer Alejandro 'Alex' Valadez died from his injuries this afternoon, police Supt. Jody Weis confirmed.
Supt. Jody Weis made the announcement Monday afternoon soon after police officers who had gathered at the 27-year-old’s bedside spilled out of John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, many of them crying and embracing each other.
"You walk around the hosptial and there are young officers in tears," he said. "Many of them do not have a lot of time on the job and now they realize how danger it is."
The shooting happened as Valadez was responding to a report of shots fired and a person with a gun, Weis said during a news briefing this morning. A vehicle with several people inside drove by and fired several rounds, striking the officer once in the leg and once in the head.
Weis said the Englewood District tactical unit officer had been on the force for three years. Valadez comes from a family of cops -- his brother, sister and fiancée are also Chicago officers. He and his fiancée were expecting a baby boy in September.
Friends and family described Valadez as “a good guy” and “a good cop.”
Valadez was an organ donor, and it’s likely his final act will once again be to help someone in need.
Police released this statement after Valadez died:
Officer Valadez honorably served the citizens of Chicago, earning a Department Commendation and 22 Honorable Mentions during his three year career with the Chicago Police Department.
We would like to express thanks to all the surgeons and medical staff at Stroger Hospital who worked tirelessly to assist Officer Valadez. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to all of Officer Valadez's fellow officers for their tremendous outpouring of support during this very challenging time.
Our deepest condolences are with the Valadez family; we ask that you keep Officer Valadez and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Investigators are "very optimistic" that the killers will be found, Weis said.
A blue, brown or gray vehicle with light color "wheel flares" was reportedly seen fleeing the scene and heading northbound from 6000 block of Hermitage Avenue with four males inside, according to unconfirmed dispatch reports.
About 1:15 a.m., a vehicle matching that description had been found in the 6100 block of South Paulina Street, with shell casings inside it, according to a law enforcement source, who said the vehicle is registered to someone who lives close to where the vehicle was found.
"It's like everyone just got punched in the stomach," said Weis, having just come from visiting the officer at Stroger. "The family is completely distraught and it's very sad. It's been a very tough week."
It has been a violent week for Chicago police.
Officer Densey Cole II was critically injured last Wednesday when he was involved in a two-vehicle crash as he was responding to a burglary in progress at the intersection of West 98th and South Halsted streets. Incapacitated in his vehicle, someone reached in and stole his gun. Cole remained in a medically induced coma on Sunday.
Two other officers were involved in incidents where people tried to take their weapons from them.
"These are very, very violent times and our officers are out there every day," Weis said. "They risk their lives trying to make a difference."