The tragic news first from the Chicago Sun-Times:
A Chicago Police officer — an academy instructor who volunteered his time by serving as a guide to a blind triathlete — was shot and killed with his own weapon Wednesday afternoon during a struggle outside a South Side police station, authorities said.
Officer Thor Soderberg, 43, was killed at about 3:45 p.m. at 61st and Racine in the parking lot outside the old Englewood District police station, which is now used by the department’s targeted response and gang enforcement units.
“The entire Chicago Police Department would like to send their deepest condolences to the officer’s family, and we ask that you keep them in your prayers,” Assistant Police Supt. James Jackson said.
Soderberg had finished his shift and was standing near his car when a 24-year-old man attacked — disarming him and shooting him with Soderberg’s own weapon, Jackson said.
The suspect ran away and then robbed a civilian, police said.
Officers from the police station exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was shot in the abdomen, Jackson said.
The suspect, a convicted felon, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he is under guard.
Calvin Jefferson, 28, said the suspect is his brother and was in critical but stable condition after being shot in the chest. "I’m still shocked," said Jefferson, adding that his brother has always been a bit of a loner who is secretive and didn’t talk much to others.
Soderberg was an 11-year veteran, according to Jackson. Friends said he was married but had no children. Police were not releasing his name because some relatives had not been notified yet.
Soderberg was typically an instructor at the training academy, but was operating out of 61st and Racine as part of Operation Protect Youth.
"If your son or daughter came on the job, he’s the guy you’d want to train them," said Assistant Deputy Supt. Matthew Tobias, who used to run the academy. "He understood what the oath meant. He understood what a priviledge [sic] it was to wear the uniform of a Chicago police officer."
A friend of the slain officer talks about the loss:
The shooting left those who knew the officer stunned by the sudden loss.
"I want people to know that he’s a great man and gave the Chicago Police a great name," said Mazen Istanbouli, a DePaul professor and close friend of the officer. "He was a giver, he never thought of himself and always thought of others."
Istanbouli, who is blind, said Soderberg helped him train and competed by his side in triathlons.
Istanbouli said the two had known each other for about three years. Istanbouli said Soderberg accompanied him to the New York City and Chicago triathalons, running and biking and swimming alongside him and serving as his guide.
The two most recently ran together at a run for fallen police officers in Chicago this spring. Just today, Istanbouli said, he brought up Soderberg’s name because he wanted the officer to accompany him at an upcoming bicycle race.
Istanbouli recalled Soderberg’s humility, particularly after they ran a race and Istanbouli tried to thank him: "He said, ‘I’m doing this for you not for me, I don’t need the medal, I’m doing it for you.’ He helped me out with training and he helped me out throughout the process with swimming and running and biking, the whole thing we did everything."
Police, and members of the public, serve on the front lines in America every day. The front lines in America. In Chicago.
The South Side of Chicago.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women in blue, whereever and whomever they serve.