Just minutes before 6 a.m. Tuesday, a pair of black sedans and an SUV raced toward the personal residence of Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Chicago's Northwest Side.
About the same time, the phone rang inside Blagojevich's home.
On the other end was Robert Grant, the FBI's special agent in charge in Chicago. Two agents were outside Blagojevich's front door with a warrant for his arrest, he told the governor.
"Well, I woke him up," Grant recalled later Tuesday at a news conference to announce charges of fraud and bribery against Blagojevich.
Blagojevich, he said, asked: Is this a joke?
Grant asked the governor to quietly open the door "without the media finding out about it, without waking the children," he said. "He was very cooperative."
Reporters and photographers for the Tribune were also in the neighborhood and witnessed some of the activities outside the home.
The two sedans and SUV pulled up in front of Blagojevich's Mediterranean-style bungalow in Ravenswood Manor beside several vehicles already stationed there—the security detail for the governor and his family. It was still dark; a heavy rain was falling.
For at least the next 20 minutes, vehicles and agents maneuvered on the block. Several sedans and SUVs could be seen moving back and forth, changing positions on the streets, parking in the governor's driveway and down an alley adjacent to Blagojevich's home.
The FBI took the governor into custody without incident and, indeed, without being seen. Grant said the FBI's approach was designed to avoid media attention and to avoid waking up the governor's two daughters, age 11 and 5.
"They [the kids] did not wake up that I know of," Grant told reporters. "They were beginning to stir as we left, but they were not awake and not aware. But his wife was awake."
Grant said during the arrest that agents handcuffed Blagojevich, calling it "normal standard practice for us." But he reiterated that the governor was cooperative throughout.
Grant acknowledged it is unusual for the FBI to arrest an elected official at his home. Most are allowed to turn themselves in.
But Grant said the FBI chose to arrest the governor in this fashion because it was best for the ongoing federal investigation.
"We have a lot of things we learned from this wiretap, a lot of things that we learned from these microphones," Grant said of the surveillance conducted by federal agents as part of the probe. "So it wasn't about . . . tying this in a bow, waiting until spring, letting things be done that damaged the state of Illinois, damaged the United State Senate, hurt people.
"It was about what is good for the investigation, what is good to find out the truth about what is going on, because this goes beyond just the governor. It goes to other people who were involved in these schemes."
Back in Blagojevich's neighborhood, as the rain turned to sleet, his street soon filled with reporters, cameramen and curiosity-seekers hoping for a glimpse or a comment as the governor returned from his initial court appearance.
But the governor slipped home through the alley in a dark SUV, without a wave or a word.
Tribune reporter Steve Schmadeke contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun