The quiet atmosphere of the downtown Joliet library was shattered Monday afternoon when a wanted man allegedly grabbed a police officer's pistol and fired it.
During the struggle, the holstered gun discharged one round which passed through the officer's pant leg and struck the wall behind him.
"Lucky and amazing," Deputy Chief Mike Trafton said of the shot missing the officer at point-blank range.
Trafton said police received an anonymous CrimeStoppers tip that Rondale L. Ellis, 23, had gone to the downtown library. Ellis reportedly has two outstanding warrants for domestic battery and one for narcotics offenses.
At 1:50 p.m. Monday, a lieutenant, a sergeant and a veteran patrol officer arrived at the library, 150 N. Ottawa St., to find Ellis on the second floor.
"In the stairwell between the first and second floors, (Ellis) began to fight with the officers and got his hand on the lieutenant's gun, put his fingers into the holster and pulled the trigger," Trafton said. "The round put a hole through the thigh area of the lieutenant's right pant leg and hit the ceramic tile on the wall directly behind him."
Trafton said no one else was in the stairwell at the time, but the library was crowded with patrons. All three officers suffered minor injuries before Ellis could be restrained, but are expected to recover.
The three officers will not be publicly identified until the department conducts an investigation into the shooting. They will also be off work Tuesday, which Trafton said is standard procedure.
"An assistant Will County state's attorney was called to the library to aid in filing initial charges against Mr. Ellis," Trafton said.
"After the suspect was handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car, he kicked out the rear window and bent the frame," Trafton said.
Ellis was then taken to the Joliet Police Station before being booked into the county jail. He faces charges of disarming a police officer, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, aggravated resisting arrest, resisting arrest, obstructing justice and criminal damage to municipal property.
Records show he was arrested by sheriff's police on charges of battery, unlawful restraint and possession of a controlled substance in September 2006 and arrested by Joliet police for violating an order of protection in March 2008.