Minutes before the shooting, Chicago Police received a call to check on the firefighter who has been on medical leave.
"Officers responding to the scene were also told this individual is despondent, and may be armed," said Pat Camden, Fraternal Order of Police.
Sources say he wasn't home, so police went to 2 pharmacies, and found him in his vehicle at 103rd & Pulaski. They say he made the sign of the cross, and then got out of his car.
"The officers tell him repeatedly to shim them his hands, they can't see his right hand, and he refused to do so. But suddenly, he sits up, makes the sign of the cross, jumps out of the car in a combat-prone position with a black object in his hand," said Camden.
Sources say Chicago police shot him several times.
They also say the victim has been a Chicago firefighter since the early 1990s, and is married with young children. His last assignment was on Chicago's Eastside, the Hegewisch neighborhood.
The fire department's top brass were at the hospital Thursday afternoon and declined to comment, but Camden had this explanation.
"This is a classic case of suicide by cop. The individual, when they put him in the ambulance, thanked one of our sergeants for doing what he had to do," said Camden.
Camden says the fireman at some point Thursday told his wife he "couldn't take it anymore." Police officials say the man was not armed, and the black object in his hand turned out to be a wallet.
An independent police authority is now investigating the case.
The man remains in critical condition at Christ Advocate Hospital in Oak Lawn, where he is undergoing surgery Thursday night.