According to police, the officer spotted a group of suspected curfew violators at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday in the 8400-block of South Kingston. One of the individuals, a male, allegedly ran away from the 47-year-old officer, identified Tuesday as Del Pearson, who is assigned to the South Chicago 4th District.
When the eight-year Chicago Police Department veteran chased the suspect, police say a gun battle began, and the suspect allegedly fired shots. One of the bullets hit officer Pearson just above his protective vest and below his collarbone on his left side.
Police say the officer fired back but did not hit the suspect.
The bullet severed an artery, and Pearson was bleeding so profusely that fellow officers put him in a squad car and drove him to nearby Trinity Hospital. He was later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in southwest suburban Oak Lawn and underwent over six hours of surgery, police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
The bullet that hit Pearson remains lodged next to the C-4 vertebrae in his lower neck. It is unclear if doctors will remove the bullet but Pearson can move his extremities.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chicago Police News Affairs told ABC7 Pearson was "awake, aware and interacting with family members."
Other officers joined Superintendent Garry McCarthy at the hospital after the shooting to show their support for the wounded officer.
"He's a good cop to begin with. His commanding officer, his executive officer, sergeant and lieutenant, all the first things they said so me was, 'This guy is a great cop. I don't know how this could have happened to him,'" McCarthy said.
Fraternal Order of Police Spokesperson Pat Camden says it is unclear how long Pearson's road to recovery will be.
"He's in intensive care. He's lost about two-thirds of his blood during the process. But the good news, again, is he is out of surgery, and we would continue to ask for your prayers and thoughts for him and his family as he proceeds to recovery," said Camden.
After the shooting, other police officers arrived at the crime scene to search for the suspect. Chicago police confirm they are questioning a 20-year-old person of interest, and they are talking to witnesses about the shooting.
"We've recovered a couple of firearms at this point," said McCarthy. "We've got statements from witnesses and we're looking to getting him charged within the 48 hours that we have to do it."
Sources say the shooter Tuesday night had attempted to get into the house where the gunfire was exchanged. On Tuesday afternoon, the landlord of that house said he was taking steps to evict his tenant.
Authorities said the Officer Pearson's wife, children, mother and pastor were all at the hospital.
"How would you feel if one of your family members was shot? The police department is a large extended family," Camden said.Chicago police say they recovered a gun from the scene.