HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- A south suburban police officer shot a man to death after he ran through a crowded church hall Sunday afternoon.
The suspect, identified by the Cook County medical examiner's office as 45-year-old Harvey resident Ronell Wade, was wanted in a string of Dollar Store robberies in Harvey.
With a church hall full of people, Harvey police say the situation could have been much worse had one of their own not fired back, killing a robbery suspect.
It all began at the Family Dollar Store at 159th and Halsted around 2:30 p.m. Sunday when an armed man walked inside. Customer John Kilpatrick was in line to check out.
"He was in front of me, all of a sudden he slammed a gun over the counter, he says 'ths is a robbery,'" Kilpatrick said. "He took off running after he robbed the store, I took off running after him. Police officers came, I told him where he was hiding."
Because it was the third Sunday in a row that an area Dollar Store was robbed, police were on the scene quickly.
"This is an individual to which we've been really after lately," said Harvey spokesperson Sean Howard. "We put business beat officers in this particular location and that's why we had a speedy process in apprehending this particular gentleman."
Police chased Wade about a block to the parking lot of the church hall across the street from Harvey's St. John the Baptist Church. The armed man ran inside to stash some of his stolen cash in the bathroom. Witnesses say he quickly ran back out and that is when a shootout with police began.
"Officers tell him to put down the gun, he shoots at the officers, the officer fires back," Kilpatrick said. "He takes off running, jumps into police car, they're fighting in there, shots are fired and jumps out, he's still fighting with the cops, put his gun in his hand and then he was shot."
Wade was killed instantly when he was shot in the head by a Harvey police officer.
During the shootout, the church hall was full of families celebrating a church anniversary. Because music was playing, many never heard the gunshots just outside the hall door.
Illinois State Police have taken over the investigation. The officer involved has been placed on leave for at least for the next 48 hours.
Dollar store robbery suspect fatally shot after chase through crowded church ID'd
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