COPA responded to scene after off-duty Chicago police officer fired weapon
CHICAGO (WLS) -- An off-duty Chicago police officer shot at a suspect trying to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle early Tuesday morning on the Northwest Side, officials said.
A male officer told police that at about 2:50 a.m. in the 2800-block of West Grace Street in the city's Irving Park neighborhood, he saw several people trying to steal a catalytic converter from a parked vehicle, CPD and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability said.
One of the male suspects pointed a gun at the officer after noticing him, CPD said.
The officer drew his firearm, and shot at the suspect, police said.
The suspects entered multiple vehicles and drove away, according to CPD, crashing into a few parked cars, including Jahayra Gutierrez' white SUV. Gutierrez said she's furious.
"I mean I'm enraged because I did just recently get my first car, and it's kind of upsetting to see it go away like this," she said.
"I had to go to work, and I had to call off because I have no more transportation. So I've got to see how that works," said Melanie Morales, whose friend's vehicle was damaged.
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Neighbor Alyson Pouls was asleep when she heard someone yelling.
"I think what they said was, 'let's get out of here' or 'get out of here,' then I heard three gunshots, then I heard a car speed away," Pouls said. "The car speeding away may have been the same time as the gunshots. I'm not sure."
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said his 35th Ward has seen an uptick in catalytic converter thefts recently.
"People are making money off of this," Ramirez-Rosa said. "And they are collecting these catalytic converters, they're selling them for hundreds of dollars for their precious metals, and I think getting the federal government involved is going to be critical."
Ramirez-Rosa said he's recently partnered with CPD to put tags on people's catalytic converters, in case they're stolen.
Meanwhile neighbors are concerned about catalytic converter thefts across the Chicago area and protecting their vehicles on the street, which are an easy target.
"If they're tagged with a specific sticker, that shows who the owner is, we can then prove that that was stolen, and that may help prevent future theft in our area," Ramirez-Rosa said.
"It's sad that this has become so normalized, that I'm hoping that the city finds some way of putting an end to it," neighbor Dave Mikkelson said.
The officer was not hurt, but was taken to a local hospital for chest pain.
No one is in custody. Area Five detectives and COPA are investigating.