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Chicago police commander was on duty when gunned down, police now say

CHICAGO -- A police commander was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon 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. Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot multiple times after he "saw the offender and engaged in an armed physical confrontation," Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

He choked back tears as he spoke to reporters outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Bauer was pronounced dead.

The shooting occurred near the James R. Thompson Center, the state government office building. Johnson said officers initially confronted the suspect because he was acting suspiciously. Police captured the man a short time later, and a gun was recovered at the scene, he said.

Bauer, 53, was a 31-year veteran of the department.

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Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer in undated photo

Chicago Police Department/CBS Chicago

Initial reports said Bauer was off-duty when he was shot, but the top spokesperson for Chicago police tweeted a correction late Tuesday night:

He added that Chicago police would be escorting Bauer's daughter to school from now on.

Early 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.


Witnesses told CBS Chicago officers warned residents to get off the streets shortly after shots were fired, and began blocking off the streets and entrances to the Thompson Center.

"They actually had us locked in Walgreens," one person in the area said. "They taped it off, so we couldn't get out. Just for a minute, and then they all hopped in their cop cars, and they all went south on Clark."

Other witnesses to parts of the incident said they heard gunshots.

"I was walking down the street and I heard 'pop pop pop pop pop,"' Noreen Danko, who was walking to her office nearby, 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. There's a stairwell there. And it goes downstairs. I heard that the door is locked there. It used to be a pedway, but now, for security reasons they have it locked."

She told the paper she saw officers lead the shackled suspect away and put him in a squad car, and then watched as emergency workers administered CPR to Bauer, who was lying on a stretcher, before he was put inside an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

"I just ask the citizens of this city to keep the Bauer family in their prayers," Johnson said before he turned and left the briefing.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered his condolences, too, calling Bauer's death "a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all."

CBS Chicago says the entire 18th Police District took part in the procession that brought Bauer's body from the hospital to the medical examiner's office -- a procession so long it took 15 minutes for the entire line to pass. It included dozens of police vehicles.