Even in the middle of the night, it’s common to see a few pedestrians here and there on the corner of North Western and Belmont avenues. But at 2 a.m. Thursday, the scene was a bit different, the mood somber.
Fifty police officers lined up outside the Belmont District police station at 2452 W. Belmont Ave. to pay tribute to Chicago Police Officer Richard M. Francis, 60, who was shot and killed exactly one year ago, at 2 a.m. in front of the station, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Belmont District police Lt. Jack Schulz organized the memorial and described it as very short, but "very emotional."
Bagpipers from the Emerald Society showed up to play "Amazing Grace."
"I called them to order, I ordered the salute and they [the bagpipers] started playing," Schulz told the Sun-Times.
Belmont District police Capt. James McGovern, who was the watch commander working the night of the incident, Belmont District Cmdr. John Kenny, Asst. Supt. for Law Enforcement Operations James Jackson, Deputy Supt. Bureau of Patrol Dan Dugan, Harrison Area Deputy Chief Wayne Gulliford and Chief of Bureau of Patrol Gene Williams all showed up to pay their respects.
Francis was a 27-year-old Chicago police veteran who worked at the Belmont District station. He had been out patrolling in his car alone that night when a CTA bus driver flagged him down during a dispute on a bus.
Francis found himself in a struggle when he confronted the woman, and she allegedly grabbed his gun and shot him once in the head.
Schulz said it’s important to honor Francis so no one forgets.
"We shouldn't forget what happened on that day," Schulz said. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice for the city of Chicago."
Francis was a Navy Seal in Vietnam and earned 35 honorable mentions as a police officer, according to ABC 7.. He was known as a beat cop who loved being on the streets, but he was also devoted to his family and basset hounds.
Robin Johnson, who was shot on the scene by responding officers, was charged with first-degree murder, one count of disarming a police officer and four counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.