Fallen Officer Wortham's star retired

January 12, 2011 4:54:51 AM PST
A Chicago officer killed in an attempted robbery was honored Tuesday with the retirement of his police badge.

Officer Thomas Wortham was shot and killed in May of last year when a group of people tried to steal his motorcycle outside his family's South Side home. On Tuesday, Chicago police held a special ceremony to honor Officer Wortham and his service to the department.

Escorted through Chicago Police Headquarters, Thomas Wortham's family arrived for a ceremony the fallen officer's father calls bittersweet.

Six months after the 30-year-old police officer was killed, Wortham's star is the 478th added to the Honored Star Case in the department's entry hall.

"He was truly a born leader," Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said. "He understood that he had to serve as well. That is what his life was all about, because he comes from good stock. He comes from a family, a commitment of raising in a home, responsibility and respect. As we honor him as truly a hero because that is what he was, he was an exceptional police officer."

Wortham was raised by his parents in the Chatham neighborhood.

Superintendent Jody Weis says the fallen officer lived his life with purpose.

"Deploying with the Army National Guard, police department and spearheading community groups safe for children," Weis said.

After surviving two tours of Iraq, Wortham was gunned down by four men trying to steal his motorcycle in front of the off-duty officer's parents' South Side home.

Wortham's father, a retired police sergeant, shot and killed one of the suspects. Thomas Wortham III and his wife Carolyn say it should be society's purpose to prevent people from turning to violence.

"We need to be a kinder gentler society. We need to worry about the people who are down and out. Obviously, WE have some serious problems in our society. We can no longer ignore the people. They will continue to kill us," said Wortham III.

Wortham was one of six Chicago officers killed last year.

"Obviously, we are devastated by Tommy's death, but I want everyone to keep in mind that every life is important, police officer or just a citizen," said Carolyn Wortham.

Since their son's death, the Worthams have been very vocal about the need to help troubled people, especially kids. Tuesday, Wortham's father was asked about the danger to police officers. Wortham says he and his son were more worried about protecting others than being victimized.

There are three people charged with Wortham's murder, all in their 20s.