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Chicago Gang Member Charged in Theft of Squad Car

Chicago Gang Member Charged in Theft of Squad Car

Hector Zuniga Jr. (Cook County Sheriff's Department)

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

June 07, 2010

COOK COUNTY, IL – Bond was set at $100,000 Saturday for a Chicago man charged with stealing a squad car from the officer attempting to stop him, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Saturday.

Hector Zuniga Jr., 20, of the 7200 block of South Harding Street, is charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, criminal damage to government property, aggravated unlawful possession of a stolen police vehicle, aggravated failure to obey an order to stop, possession of cannabis, as well as multiple traffic citations, including failure to stop at a stop sign, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance. He told police he is a member of the Satan Disciples street gang, according to police.

The incident happened at 5 p.m. Friday in an unincorporated area on the border of Stickney and Chicago’s southwest side. A Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officer attempted to stop Zuniga near the intersection of 47th and Leamington after observing Zuniga’s 1990 Jeep Cherokee roll through an intersection without stopping at a stop sign there.

Zuniga attempted to elude arrest by turning down several side streets before he sharply turned to the right and hit a stop sign at 47th and Kenneth. The officer pulled behind him, along with back-up support from a Chicago Police Officer, when Zuniga suddenly put his Jeep in reverse and slammed into the sheriff’s squad car, according to police. Zuniga then jumped from his vehicle and the officers pursued him on foot, according to police.

During that pursuit, Zuniga allegedly jumped one fence which collapsed under him, leaving him with cuts to his head, police said.The pursuing sheriff’s officer suffered a knee injury while jumping over another fence.

Zuniga ran through several yards and looped back to the original scene, where he allegedly jumped into the idling sheriff’s squad car and drove east on 47th Street. The Chicago officer returned to his vehicle and pursued Zuniga until he turned down an alley at Harding Street.

About halfway down the block, Zuniga stopped the sheriff’s squad and again allegedly attempted to flee on foot. A short distance later, he was stopped by that pursuing Chicago officer. Officers found six grams of marijuana in Zuniga’s pocket, police said.

The estimated time from the initial attempt to stop Zuniga to his arrest was five minutes.

His next court date is set for June 24 in the Bridgeview courthouse.


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