Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest Police issued a statement regarding an early-morning shooting incident in the 300 block of Neola Street where an officer was allegedly shot by a suspect who exited a vacant residence officers had been called on to check.
“When it was learned that a person was inside of the vacant residence, a perimeter was set up around the building,” police said in a statement. “A suspect exited the home and as officers attempted to detain him, he produced a handgun and began firing on officers. Officers returned fire, striking the suspect.”
“Officers returned fire, striking the suspect,” the statement continues. “One officer suffered life threatening injuries in the exchange of gunfire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.”
The officer was identified as Tim Jones, age 23, according to a news report. The name of the officer was verified by police.
Per a statement released by the Park Forest Police Department, “The suspect was identified as Thurman Reynolds, age 21, of Park Forest. The firearm used by Reynolds was recovered at the scene and was found to have been reported stolen out of Texas. Reynolds was also found to be in possession of a second firearm.”
“Officer Jones is a one year veteran of the Park Forest Police Department, and comes from a police family,” police said in a statement.
“The officer-involved shooting is being investigated by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, per protocol,” the statement continues.
“The Park Forest Police Department would like to thank the Park Forest Fire Department paramedics and emergency personnel of both Franciscan St. James Hospital, Olympia Fields Campus, and Christ Medical Center for their life-saving efforts performed on Officer Jones, as well as the surrounding police agencies, including the Matteson Police Department, Richton Park Police Department, Olympia Fields Police Department and ESDA units who responded to assist, as well as Southcom Dispatch Center. We also recognize the incredible work of our own personnel throughout this tragic incident and its aftermath.”
Officer Jones underwent major surgery and remains in critical condition.
“He was in surgery until about 3 p.m.,” Director of Communications Jason Miller told eNews Park Forest. “He is in critical but stable condition. Doctors say the surgery went well, but the next 24 to 48 hours are going to be critical.
Miller confirmed that Officer Jones sustained “at least one gunshot wound to the head area.”
In police shootings, the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force investigates, Miller said.
“Our focus on this point is on the recovery of our officer and offering as much support as we can to the people who care about him,” Miller said. “We’ve experienced a very traumatic situation today that has affected a lot of people.”
“Our focus right now is on Officer Jones,” Miller said.
Village Manager Tom Mick told eNews Park Forest, “It’s a miracle he made it this far,” and shared that he continues to pray for the officer’s recovery.
Mayor John Ostenburg said, “We’re praying for Officer Jones’ recovery and we’re hopeful that all will go well.”
Officer Jones has been with the Park Forest Police Department for one year, according to Deputy Chief Paul Winfrey. He had recently begun driving solo in the squad car following months of training with the department as is customary during an officer’s first year.
According to Chief Winfrey, Jones has already left his mark on his brothers and sisters in Blue. Just last night, Winfrey says, Officer Jones showed up at the Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts where off-duty members of the PFPD played a March Madness game of basketball with area students. Jones was on duty, in uniform, and expressed his disappointment that he could not join in the fun, but showed up to support the students and members of the department.
Two nearby neighbors, Eduardo Dixon and Henry, reflected on the news of the shooting:
Mr. Eduardo Dixon told eNews Park Forest, “As I woke up this morning I found out that this officer had been shot and the suspect killed, apparently a squatter. Officers arrived on the scene and apparently a gun battle took place.”
“I wish him well,” Mr. Dixon said. “It’s tough. Pray for him and his family. That’s what I can do.”
Henry said, “I don’t like it,” when asked about gunfire so close to his home.
One neighbor, Barbara Stephens, spoke of the good relationship residents have with members of the Park Forest Police Department, “We like our police down here. We like them a lot.”
The statement from the Park Forest Police follows:
On March 19, 2016 at approximately 5:40 am, Park Forest Police were on scene at a vacant residence on the 300 block of Neola St. investigating a break-in to the home and a stolen vehicle found at that location.
When it was learned that a person was inside of the vacant residence, a perimeter was set up around the building.
A suspect exited the home and as officers attempted to detain him, he produced a handgun and began firing on officers.
Officers returned fire, striking the suspect.
One officer suffered life threatening injuries in the exchange of gunfire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The officer was transported to St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields and then air lifted to Christ Medical Center. Neither the injured officer nor deceased suspect are being identified at this time.
The incident is being investigated by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, per protocol.
All thoughts and prayers are appreciated during this difficult time.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.