Melrose Park Police Officer ‘Unintentionally' Fires Gun While Confronting Shoplifting Suspect

The officer was confronting a shoplifter at a Jewel-Osco store when his gun discharged

A Melrose Park police officer “unintentionally” fired his weapon into the ground Sunday while pursing a shoplifting suspect from a Melrose Park grocery store, according to a village spokesman.

The Melrose Park officer responded to a call of retail theft about 9 p.m. at a Jewel-Osco, 800 W. North Ave., and fired a shot — but didn’t hit anyone — during the “heat of the moment and the chase,” Melrose Park spokesman Andrew Mack said.

He said the officer was in a squad car pursuing the suspect across North Avenue when the officer stopped to get out of the vehicle.

“A firearm was unintentionally discharged when the officer was exiting a vehicle,” Mack said. The shot was directed to the ground and “was not discharged in the direction of the suspect or public,” Mack said.

An unarmed suspect, 25-year-old Tacarre Harper of Chicago, was arrested in the store’s parking lot and charged with a misdemeanor count of retail theft, Mack said. Another suspect fled on foot across North Avenue and avoided arrest.

The officer has not been disciplined, and the investigation is ongoing, Mack said. He would not name the officer, but said the investigation “would be wrapped up soon” and its results would be made available to the public.

Illinois State Police are not investigating the incident since no one was wounded in the shooting, according to state police spokeswoman Jacqueline Cepeda.

Typically, a Melrose Park police officer who accidentally shoots their weapon is given additional firearms training, suspension, or forfeiture of vacation days, Mack said.

Melrose Park Police Director Sam C. Pitassi was not immediately available for comment.

The incident is not the first time a Melrose Park officer unnecessarily fired their weapon.

In 2017, a Melrose Park police officer accidentally fired their service weapon during a training session in Skokie. Sam J. Pitassi, the son of the Melrose Park Police Director Sam C. Pitassi, entered a bathroom stall and removed his weapon, placing it on a toilet-paper dispenser. When he tried to re-holster the weapon, it discharged a bullet into the floor. He was required to take education courses to avoid forfeiting two days of vacation time.

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