James R. Thompson Center

Who Was Cmdr. Paul Bauer? Chicago Mourns Officer Killed in Line of Duty

After a high-ranking Chicago police commander was killed in the line of duty Tuesday, members of the community he served came forward to pay their respects and remember the beloved officer and family man.

Cmdr. Paul Bauer, 53, was fatally shot multiple times while confronting an armed offender at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

A 31-year veteran of the force, Bauer led the 18th District on the city's Near North Side for the last two years.

In the wake of his death, mourners came by his station to drop off flowers, leave their condolences and even bring his fellow officers coffee and donuts as they returned to work for the first time without their leader.

"Let's not forget the legacy of Commander Paul Bauer," Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Tuesday. "He gave his life for the protection of this city."

The loss has been profound across Chicago, leaving a deep void in the city he swore to serve and protect.

"This is a gut punch to the police department, a gut punch to the city," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Bauer leaves behind a wife and 13-year-old daughter - a family he adored and who loved him right back.

"We are reminded how fragile life can be," Emanuel continued, asking residents to "put Erin and Grace in your prayers."

Community members remembered Bauer fondly, some getting to know him through his "Coffee with a Commander" meetings in his district.

"He really seemed like a genuine, honest man, more than anything," said Tucker Brookshire, a barista at Eva's Cafe, where Bauer held those events. "I just think the fact that he would stay so long and talk to everybody."

Even those who didn't know Bauer knew his work - he was commander of CPD's mounted patrol unit and played a major role in key events, like the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Blackhawks victory celebrations.

Bauer was the first Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty in seven years, and the first exempt member - meaning the highest-ranking officer - killed since the 1980s, officials said.

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