A Chicago police officer working on a departmental program focusing on youth violence was shot and killed with his own weapon just outside a police facility on the city's South Side on Wednesday afternoon.
Thor Soderberg was leaving the old Englewood District police station at South Racine Avenue and West 61st Street when he was shot. The building is now used by the department’s Targeted Response Unit.
As he returned to his car in the parking lot after his workday, a 24-year-old man grabbed Soderberg's weapon, fired off a shot and critically wounded him, said James B. Jackson, an Assistant Superintendant of Law Enforcement Operations.
Jackson said the shooter then ran off and used the weapon in an armed robbery "a short distance away."
Hearing gunfire, other officers in the building came out and exchanged gunfire with the man, Jackson said. At least one other officer shot the suspected robber, wounding him. He was taken into police custody.
The alleged shooter's injuries are considered to be non-life threatening, Jackson said.
"We saw a police officer ducking behind a squad car and the other guy was putting a clip inside and everything, and that's all we saw," said Robert Eddmonds, who lives nearby. "I didn't see exactly what happened, but when I did come outside, I noticed that I saw a guy, he was handcuffed and he was bleeding from the stomach and he was bleeding from the mouth."
Soderberg is 43 years old and has been on the force since 1999.
He was an instructor in the Education & Training Division who had been temporarily assigned for a week on the street as part of police Supt. Jody Weis' summer anti-crime initiative, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"He never thought of himself first. He always thought of others first," said Mazen Istanbouli, a DePaul University political science professor and close friend Soderberg. "I always said [that he] gave a very good name anywhere he goes for the Chicago police. He was just a great example of service and he never thought of recognition. He never thought of awards. He always thought of service."
Istanbouli, who is blind, said Soderberg was always selfless and helped him train for and compete in triathalons.
"When I asked him at one time that I would like him to share the recognition with me about the triathlon, that he should be recognized. He did the work, he did the effort, he guided me through everything, and he told me, 'No, I'm doing it for you and not for me.' He wasn't there for himself, truly," Istanbouli recalled.
The pair had recently run together in a race to honor fallen officers.
Fraternal order of Police President Mark Donahue called the incident an "extremely unfortunate situation that we find ourselves in again so soon." It has been less than two months since another officer, Thomas Wortham IV, was shot and killed when four people tried to steal his motorcycle.
"Not only have we lost a brother in arms, but the entire population of this city has lost someone that had you known them, you would have been very proud to call them one of your own as well," Donahue said of the officer.
Soderberg is married, but has no children, the Chicago Tribune reported.