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Wake, funeral set for slain Chicago police officer

July 20, 2010 3:55:10 PM PDT
A Chicago police officer shot dead outside his home after finishing his overnight shift is to be remembered at a wake and funeral this week. The Chicago Police Department said Tuesday that a Thursday afternoon and evening wake is planned at a funeral home on Chicago's South Side. A funeral is set for Friday morning at St. Sabina Church on Chicago's South Side.

On Sunday, off-duty officer Michael Bailey was gunned down just weeks before his retirement. Bailey was in uniform when he was killed.

The FBI joined the investigation at the request of the Chicago Police Department. In addition to contributing resources, the FBI is contributing $20,000 to a reward to help find the killer.

"We have electronic resources, other resources in terms of expertise," said Special Agent Ross Rice, the Chicago FBI spokesperson. "So whatever they need that we can provide, we'll be there to help solve this case."

A total of $55,000 in rewards had been announced as of Monday night in the case. The remaining reward money comes from the Fraternal Order of Police and Chicago Police Memorial Fund.

Police at Michael Bailey's 1st District station house are devastated by his murder. Investigators say the 20-year police veteran was killed by gunmen at his home trying to rob him of a new black Buick Regal he had just purchased as a retirement gift for himself.

Bailey, 62, was one month from retirement. Upon turning 63 this coming August, he would have been forced to retire, according to Chicago police rules. This weekend he was assigned to an overnight shift guarding Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's home.

Daley made his first public comments on Bailey's death on Monday.

"He was a very, very kind and considerate man who wore the uniform with pride and we are very saddened for his family."

Daley, Quinn and other elected officials gathered for the announcement of a law making aggravated, unlawful use of a weapon a non-probation offense.

The event took place at Cole Park, where Officer Thomas Wortham IV also was killed in May while he was off duty. Police say he was confronted by robbers and then shot outside his parents' South Side home.

Last week, many in the Chicago Police Department and loved ones attended funeral services for Officer Thor Soderberg, 43, who was shot and killed outside a department training facility in Englewood.

Soderberg's widow looked on Monday while Wortham's father emotionally said that it will take more than gun laws to keep kids from turning into thugs.

"We cannot continue to raise a generation of kids who grow up and think they can kill people at will," said Wortham's father, Thomas Wortham III.

Wortham III went on to say that more investment is needed in communities to try and stop children from becoming criminals. A retired officer with more than three decades on the force, Wortham III said he has never seen such a level of disrespect toward officers in uniform.

"It's almost like this is a movie - this is not real - this doesn't happen in real life - you don't have this number of policemen killed in such a short span of time," said Wortham III.

Mayor Daley said the problem is that the city, state and federal government are all out of money.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday, however, than Mayor Daley plans on hiring 100 more police officers in response to this summer's violence.

Daley also emphasized the role of individuals and families in fighting violence.

"People have to take control over their own families," said Daley.

Stunned officers mourning their loss stood in the shadows of flags flying at half staff at 1st District headquarters Monday morning.

"Michael was a funny guy. I'm going to miss his infectious smile," said Officer Keith Threatt, Chicago Police Department.

Inside the station house, fellow officers gathered to share their thoughts of the man they called a gentle giant who always had the time to share his knowledge with younger officers.

"Officer Bailey was a kind, compassionate person, hard working, caring, intelligent," said Cmdr. Christopher Kennedy, Chicago Police Department.

Bailey, a married father of three, was preparing to leave the job everyone says he loved. Bailey's goodbye party was planned for the first week in August.

"In his last month about a week and a half ago, he came to me and applied for three different overtime initiatives. And I mentioned to him, I laughed, 'Mike, you're going to retire in a month, why are you doing this?'" said Lt. John Serefini, Chicago Police Department. "We both laughed, and he gave me that wry smile that he had. 'I'm just dedicated, boss, what can I say?'"

"He gave us a lot of insight on how to survive, how to serve in the community. I'm devastated and shook up about it," said Officer Eugene Goldsmith, Chicago Police Department.

Bailey was also a tai chi master and involved in his church.

"Words cannot express the shock, sorrow and outrage we feel at the loss of a Chicago police officer," said Beatrice Cuello, assistant superintendent for administration.

Bailey, who was still in his uniform, was cleaning his brand new car at 74th Street and South Evans around 6 a.m. Sunday. Police say shots rang out after some men approached and tried to take the vehicle. After hearing the shots, Bailey's son tried to go after the attackers with one of his father's guns.

"It is happening too frequently," said relative John Holmes. "The sadness is that we have laws on the books to stop a lot of this, but people have no fear of consequences for what they do."

Colleagues said they were planning on holding a pizza party for Bailey to celebrate his retirement, and that they were ready to send some old-man/retirement jokes his way at that time.

Bailey is the third Chicago police officer killed in the last two months.

"I have 33 years on the police force, so I've seen a lot of police officers get killed in the line of duty, unfortunately," said Sgt. Dennis Hinkson of the Chicago Police Department. "It's always more tragic when it's someone you know."

On Sunday, Area 2 police investigating the crime canvassed Officer Bailey's neighborhood looking for three suspects. No one is in custody, and no arrests have been made. As of Monday night, investigators reportedly had few leads.

Wortham III said that citizens need to get involved to improve safety.

"I think this is a wake-up call, because if these individuals shoot a policeman, what do they think about you?" said Wortham III.

A motorcade escorted Bailey's body to the medical examiner's office just hours after he was shot and killed.

"I worked with him on the night shift," said Hinkson. "It was very nice working with him for the short time that I did."

While shocked officers gathered outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Bailey was brought after the attack, relatives and friends rushed to the officer's home.

"I was laying in my bed, and I heard approximately six shots," said neighbor Lillie Nix. "I laid there for a few minutes and just started praying, as I usually do, because it's not unusual to hear shots in the neighborhood."

Before becoming a police officer, Bailey worked as a firefighter for 10 years.

Officer Bailey was assigned to security detail for Mayor Daley's home sometimes, but not regularly. The mayor issued a statement Sunday that read, in part: "It's absolutely outrageous. Our prayers go out to the family of Officer Bailey. I knew him. He was a good man. He did not deserve this."

"Times have come that we've got to readjust with how we police to bring situations like this to an end," said Mark Donahue of the Fraternal Order of Police.

For 6th Ward Alderman Fredrenna Lyle, Bailey is the second officer killed in her ward in the past two months. Lyle says she knew Bailey and his family well and that the family was involved in the CAPS programs and block clubs.

"They were doing these things we ask people to do stay in the community instead of flee," said Lyle.

Bailey reportedly was working with the other residents and the police department to have cameras installed in his neighborhood.

Bailey was reportedly affectionately known as "Big Mike."

Police Supt. Jody Weis did not comment on Bailey's death Sunday. He was out of town due to a death in his family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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