An off-duty police officer was shot and killed Thursday night during a robbery at a West Side convenience store where he worked as a security guard, officials said.
Two men walked into the M & M Quick Foods in the 1200 block of North Austin Boulevard in the Austin neighborhood about 8:30 p.m. and shot the officer, Clifton Lewis, several times with a "machine-type" pistol. They then grabbed his gun and star and fled, sources said.
Lewis, 41, an eight-year veteran assigned to the Austin District, was rushed to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, where he was pronounced dead. About 200 police officers joined Lewis' family at the hospital into the night.
Lewis was assigned to the Austin District's tactical team and his weapon wasn't recovered, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Sgt. Al Stinites said. Nobody is in custody.
"He was a very nice person. I can't speak (badly) about him," said Dorothy Booker, 73, the grandmother of Lewis' fiancee.
Booker said her granddaughter and Lewis had been dating for several years.
A press release from the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described the shooting as "tragic and senseless."
A 22-year-old man who was at the store with a friend, said the shooter didn't say much and the officer didn't have time to react. "It happened so quickly," he said. The shooter was "light-skinned" and had "gang tattoos on his face," he said.
Store owner Jaimini Patel said the store, which is equipped with security cameras, was robbed about three weeks ago.
"For so many years, nothing happened like this," she said. "Not like this, a shooting, somebody dying. Never happened. I don't know what to say now."
James Bowman, 35, who lives nearby in Oak Park, said hiring a security guard "was supposed to stop the problem. But now it's a bigger problem."
Bowman said his friend was killed on the same block about 10 years ago. “Stuff like this, it's normal here," he said.
Another man, who asked not to be named, said he stopped by the store Wednesday after his son's basketball game and spoke with the officer.
His son was dribbling the ball and the officer asked the man about his son's game.
"Shocking, it's shocking," the man said about the shooting.
A woman who lives near the store was on her way to play the lottery when she said she heard one shot and then saw police gather quickly.
Just before midnight, more than a dozen police cars were parked near Stroger with their Mars lights flashing, waiting for Clifton's body to be taken to the Cook County medical examiner's office a few blocks away.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was a passenger in a black SUV in the procession. He wasn't made available for comment.
About 40 Chicago police cars, marked and unmarked, escorted Chicago Fire Department Ambulance 15 to the medical examiner's office. Police officers and firefighters saluted toward the ambulance as it passed just before 12:30 a.m. Friday.
Hundreds of officers and some of Lewis' relatives remained at the crime scene into Friday morning.
The last Chicago police officer fatally shot was Michael Flisk, an evidence technician who was killed in November 2010 while investigating a break-in to a car in a Southeast Side alley.
Tribune reporters Jeremy Gorner and Peter Nickeas contributed.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun