An off-duty Chicago police officer died Monday evening in an apparent suicide in a forest preserve on the Northwest Side.
Officer Paul Escamilla, 40, was found by Cook County sheriff’s police about 7 p.m. at Bunker Hill Forest Preserve near Caldwell and Touhy avenues, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Matt Walberg and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Escamilla, who was off-duty when he was found, died of an apparent suicide, Chicago police said. He was a 17-year veteran of the police force.
The sheriff’s office was investigating the death.
A police procession Monday night took Officer Escamilla to the medical examiner’s office on the Near West Side.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweet that the death was “debilitating news” and an “unthinkable loss of a dedicated police officer.”
“Our deepest condolences to his family & prayers for his extended police family in the 24th District,” Gugleilmi said. The 24th District covers the Rogers Park and West Rogers Park neighborhoods on the North Side.
An autopsy has been scheduled to determine his official cause of death.
In 2019, at least three other Chicago police officers have died by suicide. Chicago has one of the highest rates of officer suicide in the country, Guglielmi said.
The police department launched the “You Are Not Alone CPD” campaign in 2018 to help prevent such actions. The campaign included an increase in the number of counselors available to officers and the development of a peer-to-peer support group, Guglielmi said.