Romeoville police officer shot, suspect charged after hours-long manhunt

Officer injured in Romeoville shooting recovering, police say

Friday, May 26, 2023
Suspect in Romeoville cop shooting found hiding in woman's backyard
The homeowner was sheltering in place as she was told when officers knocked on her door and told her the suspect in a Romeoville cop shooting had been found in her backyard.

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Romeoville police officer is recovering and a suspect has been charged after an intense search early Thursday morning, police said.

Police arrested the 29-year-old suspect, who was out on parole and has an extensive criminal history, after an hours-long manhunt, police said.

Romeoville police said they spotted a stolen car in a neighborhood near Sierra Trail and Summerfield Drive.

When they went to investigate, the suspect, later identified as Samer Hernandez, returned to where the car was and police said he opened fire at officers, hitting one in the shoulder. The officer was rushed to the hospital just after midnight.

"The news we received earlier was positive," Romeoville Police Chief Ken Kroll said.

Romeoville Police Chief Ken Kroll says a suspect was arrested after a Romeoville police officer was shot Thursday morning.

Officer Dominic Thielmann remains stable at Loyola University Medical Center, police said.

That's when the manhunt started. At one point, a lockdown was issued for parts of the area.

Romeoville police, along with the Will County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police, SWAT teams, K9s, drones and dozens of other agencies searched and managed to find the suspect about five hours later, at around 5:45 a.m.

"He was found less than a mile away from where the incident took place in a backyard," Chief Kroll said. "He was hiding in some shrubbery."

They arrested the suspect without incident.

"I guess he was hiding in this little corner," said Miranda Kranenborg, whose yard Hernandez was hiding in. She spoke exclusively with ABC7 Chicago. "He came in through this little gated area back here."

Kranenborg was sheltering in place as she had been ordered to, and had no idea the suspect was just steps away.

"I had a police officer, full gear and everything, shield up and everything, knock on my back door which is just straight glass," she said. "They just said that they caught the guy and he was in my back yard, so kind of freaky!"

Hernandez has been charged with armed robbery, stemming from a stolen vehicle incident that occurred Saturday in Romeoville.

His bond has been set at $5,000,000, and he's been transported to the Will County Jail.

Attempted murder charges are pending, police said.

"We were getting tips from the community about Ring doorbell and such, and with the help of daylight that's how we were able to make our arrest," Kroll said.

Residents living in the area where this all happened cannot believe what they heard.

"I heard gunshots," resident Maricel Betz said. "I wasn't sure it was, so I kinda texted my neighbor. I called the police, and they said they were aware. A few minutes later, we saw 30 squad cars right here on our street."

The normally quiet neighborhood was covered in police tape, with K9 police dogs searching the area for evidence and the alleged weapon used in the shooting.

"It was very terrifying," Betz said. "I'm glad they got him and everyone is safe."

Chief Kroll said the injured officer has been with the department for six years.

"It was pretty scary; we didn't know if we should be going in the basement. We saw rifles everywhere, so it was pretty scary. I couldn't sleep at all," Betz said.

This has been a very difficult year for first responders. The Chicago area has been through a painful time.

"An outstanding young man, one of our best officers on the department, we have a lot of positive news coming from the hospital; we're waiting on some really good news," Kroll said.

From March to May, four first responders have been laid to rest.

Last week, Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston's funeral was held, and, in April, two Chicago firefighters died in the line of duty in separate fires within a span of just two days.

The Chicago Police Department also continues to mourn the loss of Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso, who was shot and killed on-duty.

INTERACTIVE SAFETY TRACKER Track crime and safety in your neighborhood