An off-duty Chicago police officer who was shot and killed while working security detail at a West Side grocery store "didn't stand a chance," Supt. Garry McCarthy said Friday.
Officer Clifton Lewis was working the part time job he'd just picked up about a week earlier when two masked men walked into the M&M Quick Foods, at 1201 N. Austin St., to rob the place, officials said.
"One of the two offenders immediately turned and started firing at Officer Lewis, and Officer Lewis engaged that individual and was subsequently murdered," said a visibily emotional McCarthy.
Based on what officials can see from surveillance video they've reviewed, McCarthy said one of the attackers was carrying a handgun. The man who shot Lewis used what McCarthy said could be an automatic or semi-automatic weapon, like a TEC-9.
"The officer didn't stand a chance in this case. He did everything he could," said McCarthy.
Lewis, 41, had eight years of service with the department and was most-recently assigned to the 15th District.
"Clift not only worked in the 15th District, he lived in this neighborhood too. So he served the community he lived in, and he tried to make his community a better place. It's a shame that something horrible like this could happen," said 15th District Lt. Mike Stevens.
Lewis was not married but asked his longtime girlfriend for her hand in marriage just days ago, on Christmas.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday called the death "a tragic and senseless loss, most deeply for Officer Lewis’ family and those who served alongside him, but also for the entire city of Chicago."
"There are no words that can make this loss easier to bear for Officer Lewis’ family and colleagues," Emanuel said in a statement, "and we want them to know that they are not alone. As a City, we mourn Officer Lewis' death and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues."
McCarthy said police have recovered much of Lewis' property declined to comment specifically on whether his badge and gun were among those items. Police had said earlier that they have not recovered the officer's weapon.
No one was in custody as of Friday evening, and those who spoke at the press conference pleaded for the public's help in finding Lewis' killer.
"We have some significant leads in this case … we still need more help," said McCarthy.
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and others are offering an $11,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Lewis' killer. Tipsters should call 888-YPO-SHOT.
Shortly after Thursday's shooting, authorities pulled over a vehicle near North Laramie Avenue and West Hirsch Street that they believe was used as the getaway car, sources said. Two people were arrested and were being questioned.
Another shooting was reported at a liquor store about two miles away from where the officer was shot, but it's unclear if the incidents are related. Two people were reportedly injured in that shooting.
Clifton was one of two officers killed this year. Officer Hester Scott was found beaten to death in November, her body found in a sewer trap behind her Gresham home. Scott's grandson, Keshawn Perkins, was charged with first-degree murder.
|A black and purple mourning flag flies at half staff outside District 15 headquarters.|