For the first time, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry Mccarthy is talking about the eight-hour standoff that brought traffic on Lake Shore Drive to a standstill in both directions for most of the day on St. Patrick's Day weekend.
Police had identified the suspect, Joseph Felton, as someone wanted for questioning in the murder of his wife in Georgia, and some questioned why it lasted for more than eight hours.
For thousands of Chicagoans the standoff Sunday between police and murder suspect Joseph Felton that shut down traffic in both directions on Lake Shore Drive represented a major inconvenience. It lasted more than eight hours. But Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is defending the department's actions.
"We took every step to cautiously apprehend a very violent murderer that we knew was wanted for murder in another state," said Supt. McCarthy.
Police say Felton had led officers on a high speed chase from south suburban Harvey all the way to the Near North Side of Chicago on Lake Shore Drive. There he slammed into a civilian car, and later a Chicago police car. Several officers fired at him in the car. But as they surrounded him and closed off the area, Felton claimed to be heavily armed. Officers had already identified him as the prime suspect in the murder of his wife, Sheray Felton, in Georgia. Law enforcement experts agree Chicago police handled the situation well.
"This was a volatile and highly dangerous situation. No loss of life. Police did an outstanding job of containing it as best they could," said Arthur Lurigio, criminologist, Loyola University.
"Unfortunately it left some people stuck in their car. Preventing someone from dying is the most important they that we do," said Supt. McCarthy.
After trying to negotiate with Felton for most of the afternoon and evening, officers eventually fired a flash grenade that filled the area with smoke. Felton surrendered moments later. In court Tuesday, prosecutors charged him with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing of police. A judge denied bail for Felton.
Police in Henry County, Ga., near Atlanta, are reportedly in town and plan to begin extradition proceedings. Felton has not yet been charged with his wife's murder. The medical examiner there has found she died of blunt force trauma from a weapon.