Memorial for slain officer to be held Thursday

July 10, 2010 6:53:55 PM PDT
A memorial celebration for Officer Thor Soderberg, who was shot and killed this week, will be held Thursday at 10 a.m.Soderberg was shot to death with his own gun outside a police station at 61st and Racine Wednesday.

Murder charges were filed Friday against Chicago resident Bryant Brewer, 24, in the shooting death of Officer Soderberg.

A judge ordered Brewer held without bond Friday. Brewer's criminal record includes 21 arrests.

ABC7 Chicago is told he confessed to the crime.

In the crime-ravaged community where the respected officer died, Chicago police say something unusual happened that is helping them make their case. The 'Code of Silence' that routinely stands between criminals and the police who hunt them has not been a problem in this case.

Eighteen witnesses reportedly have come forward and are helping make the case against an alleged cop killer.

"Eighteen witnesses came forward. Eighteen. That's phenomenol. So, the good citizens of Englewood, they recognize it's not right when a police officer is killed," Weis said.

"This savage act defies all human value. It should never have happened, but it did. So, here we are again. Another public servant murdered. The entire department is saddened beyond belief," said Chicago Police Dept. Supt. Jody Weis.

Detectives say they have found nothing to suggest Brewer specifically targetted the police. Weis says all evidence points to the shooting being a random act of violence -- one that just happened to occur in the parking lot of a police station and just happened to have a respected Chicago police officer as its victim.

"I don't know what was going through this guy's head. Why he would attack a police officer in broad daylight? That's something that, I guess, only he will know," said Weis.

Brewer remained hospitalized Friday evening. But even if he improves, he will not be allowed to go free. A judge denied bond for the 24-year-old after prosecutors read a laundry list of previous run-ins with the law. They include nearly two dozen arrests, including a charge he shot his own brother. Relatives say that was an accident.

No mention was made of claims by Brewer's family that he suffers from mental illness.

"He did, in fact, make an admission. I can't go into the content of that statement, but he did make an admission," said Chicago Police Department Det. Allen Szudarski.

"The judge found that the proof is evident and the presumption is great that Mr. Brewer is guilty of this offense, and because this is a shooting death of Chicago police officer, Brewer could potentially be eligible for the death penalty," said John Dillon, Cook Co. assistant state's attorney.

Investigators say Officer Thor Soderberg had no warning before the attacker charged, fought, then disarmed the veteran cop and used the officer's own weapon to kill him before heading down the street and shooting at another man, as well as at the police building.

Meanwhile, Soderberg's commanding officer at the training academy says he will be an inspiration to others who serve and protect.

"What I tell everyone at the training academy is to look to him as a mentor and as an example of what we want to do to get ready to hit the street," said Asst. Deputy Supt. Howard Lodding, Chicago Police Training Academy.

"In a little over a year, there's four officers we buried, and three of them were shot to death and by people who shouldn't have been on the street," the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation's Phil Cline said.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation would like to see the case be a wake-up call to judges who give light sentences, low or no bond to people with long criminal records.

"Why are these guys getting out on parole, multiple bonds? Why are they getting sentences of probation? Why aren't they going to jail?" Cline said.

Cline visited with Officer Soderberg's widow Friday and gave her a $50,000 check from the memorial foundation.

The Thor Soderberg Fund -- Connecting Youth with Nature, is accessible through the Chicago Community Trust's website at www.cct.org.

The location for Soderberg's funeral has not been finalized, and all wake services will be private.


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