Four-time felon charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

Four-time felon charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor
nChicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot and killed near the Thompson Center in the Loop on Feb. 13, 2018. 

A four-time felon was charged Wednesday afternoon with first-degree murder and armed violence in connection with the Loop slaying of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer on Tuesday.

Cmdr. Paul Bauer, 53, was shot to death at the Thompson Center after chasing a man fleeing from tactical officers who tried to stop him, police officials said. Bauer confronted the man, who opened fire as the two struggled, killing the 31-year department veteran, according to police officials and other sources. Bauer had been in the area after attending “active shooter” training, which prepares officers for mass shootings. He also had a meeting with aldermen scheduled for later in the day.

Shomari Legghette has a criminal history stretching back more than two decades, court records show. He picked up new charges while out on bond, on parole and serving probation, making him the kind of repeat offender whom Bauer urged authorities to keep off the street.

At a news conference at police headquarters, Area Central Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan told reporters that Legghette fired seven shots, using a gun with an extended magazine.

“This department didn’t just lose an exemplary police officer. The city lost of piece of itself,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters.

Command officers represent few of the cops gunned down in city history, though the death of a top officer is not unprecedented. In June 1981, First Deputy Superintendent James J. Riordan was fatally shot at the Marina City complex downtown while he was off-duty and trying to disarm a gunman who had been harassing patrons at a restaurant.

Police officials said Bauer, the highest ranking officer killed in decades, had a cousin, Officer Martin Darcy Sr., fatally shot in the line of duty in 1982.

Authorities described a hectic scene that ended with the fatal confrontation in a freezing outdoor stairwell, just outside the Thompson Center and a stone’s throw from City Hall.

The mayhem began when officers working a drug mission on Lower Wacker Drive tried to approach Legghette for an interview, Deenihan said.

“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” he said in November 2017, according to the Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

As soon as the officers left their car, he took off, Deenihan said, running from Lower Wacker Drive to street level as an officer yelled after him: “I just want to talk to you.”

On Bauer’s street in the South Side’s Bridgeport neighborhood, neighbors remembered him as a considerate family man who attended services at the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church. After the recent snowstorm, he used his snowblower to clear the sidewalk for the whole block, neighbors said.

He ran to the corner of State and Clark streets, where Bauer’s car was parked, Deenihan said. Bauer, who had been listening in on his police radio, gave chase — a pursuit caught on video from a nearby taxicab, Deenihan said.

The Associated PressIn this Feb. 23, 2016 photo, then Chicago police Capt. Paul Bauer takes part in the arrest of a protester outside an Apple store on Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Promoted to commander, Bauer, 53, a 31-year veteran of the department, was fatally shot Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in downtown Chicago after he spotted a man matching the radio description of an armed suspect officers were chasing on foot, the city’s police superintendent said. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) 0 Shares Email

Video also captured Bauer and Legghette struggling at the top of a stairwell near the Thompson Center. Legghette pulled at Bauer, and the two tumbled down the steps. Moments later, witnesses heard seven gunshots, Deenihan said.

“Even when we catch somebody, there’s still a long way to go to get them off the street,” Bauer said at the Nov. 14 gathering, according to a report in the Loop North News. “We’re not talking about the guy that stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family. We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

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Bauer, who was on duty and in full uniform, apparently never drew his own weapon, Deenihan said.

Officers from the Attorney General’s office and Illinois State Police were the first on the scene, he said, followed by a Chicago police officer in civilian clothes.

They came to the stairwell with their guns drawn, ordered Legghette to come out, then placed him under arrest, Deenihan said.

Legghette, wearing body armor under a black coat, had heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine on him in addition to the gun, according to police. He did not make any statements to police, Deenihan said.

Legghette has been arrested repeatedly and, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections, he has several felony convictions on his record dating back to the 1990s that have landed him in prison. Most of them are drug-related, but his record also includes crimes that show a willingness to use a gun.

Slain police commander had complained of lenient courts

Deenihan described a nearby taxi driver as “an excellent witness,” noting that the cab’s camera caught video of Bauer chasing Legghette as well as audio of the gunshots.

The driver even pulled over, got out of his car and recorded more video on his cellphone, including footage of police recovering the gun from Legghette and the moment the officer realized Legghette was wearing body armor.

Bauer, a 31-year department veteran, jumped from his car and ran after Legghette, who matched the description that he heard on his radio. Police said Bauer chased Legghette to the top of a stairwell, where the two fought, before Legghette grabbed him and the two of them fell down the stairwell.

Bauer, who was in uniform, had been in the area after attending “active shooter” training, which prepares officers for mass shootings. He also had a meeting with aldermen scheduled for later in the day.

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The married father of a 13-year-old daughter is the first Chicago cop fatally shot since 2011.

A Chicago police official says Bauer identified himself as a police officer and was trying to detain the suspect when they got into a physical fight and fell down a stairwell. The official says the suspect shot Bauer in the head multiple times.

His first Cook County conviction came in 1997 when he pleaded guilty to drug possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. While serving that probation, he was charged with armed robbery and was ultimately found guilty and sentenced in 1999 to 16 years in prison.

While on parole in 2007, he was arrested for a slew of new offenses: unlawful use of a weapon and body armor by a felon, possession of a gun with a defaced serial number and a heroin charge. He pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The official says Bauer identified himself as a police officer and was trying to detain the suspect when they got into a physical fight and fell down a stairwell. The official says the suspect shot Bauer in the head multiple times.

While out on bond in that case, he was again arrested and charged with drug possession — a case that was ultimately dropped.

The shooting death of a police commander near a state government office building gripped parts of downtown Chicago as emergency workers tried to save the department veteran at the scene and officers shackled the suspect.

In 2011 he was charged with resisting an officer and battery, records show. He was found guilty on one of the two battery counts and was sentenced to probation.

His most recent conviction was similar to his first: He pleaded guilty in 2015 to drug possession and was given two years in prison. He was discharged from parole in August 2016, according to an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor

Johnson noted Legghette’s extensive criminal history, calling the shooting “a devastating reminder” that repeat gun offenders are out on the streets.

“Police officers take a lot of knocks,” he said. “If Paul’s actions yesterday remind us of anything, they should remind us that police officers are the good guys, and Paul was one of the best of the good guys.”

The Chicago Police Department has said tactical officers had detained the suspect outside the James R. Thompson Center government building when the man fled. Officers initially confronted the suspect because he was acting suspiciously, according to police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Some initial media reports said the suspect may have been involved in the robbery of a local business, but Johnson did not provide details about what the man was doing that prompted officers to want to speak with him.

After ascending the department ranks, Bauer assumed leadership in 2016 of the Near North District, just north of where he was shot. In that role, he publicly vented frustration about the difficulty of clearing repeat offenders from the street — a common refrain among Chicago police and political officials who confront a stubborn violent crime rate driven in part by recidivism.

“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” he said in November, according to the Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

“I was walking down the street and I heard ‘pop pop pop pop pop,’” Danko told the Chicago Tribune. “And I said to the girl next to me, ‘Is that what I think it is?’ And she said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘Aw geez.’ And everybody is scurrying all over and I see the police head to the stairs there.”
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor

Hours after the shooting, Bauer’s neighbors in the South Side’s Bridgeport neighborhood remembered him as a considerate family man who attended services at the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church. After the recent snowstorm, he used his snowblower to clear the sidewalk for the whole block, neighbors said.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified spoke with tears in his eyes as he shoveled his mother’s car out of the snow Tuesday evening.

Officers had been chasing the man on foot when Bauer “saw the offender and engaged in an armed physical confrontation,” Johnson said Tuesday afternoon. Police captured the suspect a short time later, and a gun was recovered at the scene, he said.
An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death
An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death

“I could count on Paul to come and help me with this right now,” he said.

An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death
An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death

The charges came down as an impromptu memorial grew Wednesday outside the Thompson Center where Bauer was fatally shot.

Passers-by paused there to offer flowers, snap photos — one person made the sign of the cross — as they reflected on the death of the 31-year veteran of the force and violence that erupted in broad daylight in the heart of downtown.

Gilberto Robles, 27, of Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, works nearby and stopped to pay his respects at the memorial, next to an outdoor, plaza-level stairwell marked with an “emergency exit” sign; the stairs were cordoned off with caution tape.

Neighbors are reacting to the death of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, describing him as a man that "everyone should have in their life." NBC 5’s Michelle Relerford shares their heartbreaking stories. 

Robles recalled making a trip to the Daley Center, just across the street, on Tuesday afternoon and getting caught in the aftermath of the shooting. He said he saw the swarm of police cars but didn’t realize until later that the shooting victim was an officer.

Cmdr. Bauer was shot to death while assisting a tactical team in “apprehending a suspicious person” at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.

"My first reaction (was) well, that’s another count, I guess, for the city of Chicago because violence is every day. It’s nothing new," Robles said. "It is upsetting to find out it is an officer, someone that’s trying to help keep the peace. But, you know, it just adds another body count to the city."

Inside the Thompson Center’s basement food court, Willard O’Brien, 67, of the Canaryville neighborhood, was finishing his breakfast and said he also thought that the shooting highlighted the city’s numbness to violence.

"We are not surprised these things happen all the time," O’Brien said. "It saddens us but doesn’t surprise us."

A wake will be held on Friday afternoon at the church, located in the 600 block of West 37th Street, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Greg Zanis, of Crosses for Losses, left a wooden cross adorned with a blue heart, the officer’s name and a laminated photo outside the Thompson Center.

His death has been ruled a homicide, and a suspect has been charged in the murder. 

Portia Shaw stared at the memorial from inside the bustling building. She’s worked as a security guard at the Thompson Center for 29 years and heard Tuesday’s gunshots on her way to grab a late lunch.

What we know now about the shooting of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

She had heard arguing as she walked through the plaza, then she heard an alarm going off in the stairwell.

"I know automatically, oh, someone walked down there, having no business being there," Shaw said. "They don’t know that it’s not an outlet down there."

Paul Bauer killed: Off duty Chicago Police Commander gunned down helping colleagues to make arrest

Then she heard a series of gunshots that she thinks came from the stairwell.

Off-duty police officer shot and killed in downtown Chicago

"Once I heard two and then three, that’s actually when I started running after I heard the second bullet because it didn’t seem like it was going to stop," Shaw said. "So I must have counted five or six shots, could have been seven."

The outside stairwell where Shaw thinks she heard the shots was the focus of attention of state officials checking the building’s security the day after Bauer was fatally shot.

Chicagoans, police officers mourn loss of Cmdr. Paul Bauer

Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz and two other officials walked down the stairs that start at an outside plaza and lead to an emergency exit. An alarm was heard going off.

"I just wanted to make sure that we had a good handle on what we are doing here, the security of the building," Schmitz said. "Everything happened outside, nothing came inside. So we are doing our due diligence."

Chicago police commander fatally shot at Thompson Center ID’d

Schmitz started his career in law enforcement with Bauer and described him as a family man. He wasn’t surprised to learn that Bauer jumped in to help other officers during Tuesday’s chase.

"I think anybody that knows Cmdr. Bauer would know that he would be helping other officers," Schmitz said. "He’s a hero. Him doing that probably saved someone else from getting hurt."

Monica Silva, 45, stopped by during her lunch break to drop off a large, plush stuffed dog that she wanted to end up in the arms of Bauer’s daughter. Silva’s husband is a Chicago police officer in the Near West District, which borders the district Bauer commanded.

High-ranking police commander shot to death after responding to robbery in downtown Chicago

Although she didn’t personally know Bauer, a teary-eyed Silva said it felt like a family member died. “It does feel like family whenever we experience a loss like this,” she said. “Someone that good who really wants to do everything to keep the family or the city safe. It’s hard.”

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Silva said she was tired of hearing people say “thoughts and prayers” after a tragic event. Something needs to change in the city, she said.

“It’s like we don’t pay attention to the things that happen when they do," Silva said. "We do become numb to hearing again and again that somebody’s been shot."

Veteran off-duty Chicago police commander, 53, is fatally shot during an ‘armed physical confrontation’ with a robbery …

Shomari Legghette, shown in a 2015 booking mug, was charged Feb. 14, 2018, in the death of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. 

Shomari Legghette, shown in a 2015 booking mug, was charged Feb. 14, 2018, in the death of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. 

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Shomari Legghette has a criminal history stretching back more than two decades, court records show. He picked up new charges…

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Jasmin Soto places flowers at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago.

Jasmin Soto places flowers at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago.

Aiden Sandifer, 9, attaches a “thank you” note at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018.

Aiden Sandifer, 9, attaches a “thank you” note at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018.


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