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Chicago Officer Shot, Killed With Own Weapon

Chicago Officer Shot, Killed With Own Weapon

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

July 08, 2010

CHICAGO – A veteran Chicago police officer assigned to a special unit to tamp down youth violence was shot to death Wednesday afternoon as he left an Englewood police building in a dangerous stretch of that South Side neighborhood.

Authorities said an assailant took Officer Thor Soderberg’s gun and fatally shot him.

Those who knew the 43-year-old officer, normally an instructor at the police training academy, were horrified to learn of his death.

“If your son or daughter came on the job, he’s the guy you’d want to train them,” said Assistant Deputy Superintendent Matthew Tobias, who once ran the academy. “He understood what the oath meant. He understood what a privilege it was to wear the uniform of a Chicago police officer.”

Englewood residents who live near the scene of the shooting, however, weren’t surprised that such a brazen act could happen at a police facility outside their doorsteps.

“This neighborhood is exactly what it is, it’s wild,” said Cheri Ricardo, who lives across the street from the police building. “They still shoot up and down the street when they want to.”

Assistant Superintendent James Jackson said Soderberg was in uniform when he left the facility about 3:45 p.m. at 61st Street and Racine Avenue and walked to a parking lot, where he got into a struggle with a 24-year-old man. The younger man took the officer’s gun and shot him, then ran off and attempted an armed robbery not far away, police said.


Police Officer Thor Soderberg

Jackson said police in the facility heard gunfire, chased the suspect and exchanged shots with him, eventually shooting him. The suspect’s injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where uniformed and plainclothes officers stood guard. The suspect is a convicted felon with many arrests, a police source said.

Soderberg was the second police officer killed in Englewood in the past 13 months. Officer Alejandro “Alex” Valadez was killed last June after responding to an early-morning report of gunfire.

An 11-year veteran, Soderberg had recently been working at the Englewood building as part of a weeklong police detail called Operation Protect Youth.

The class he teaches at the training academy is set to graduate next week. Officials said Soderberg dropped in to check on his class earlier Wednesday on his lunch break.

Friends said Soderberg was married and had no children.

“I want people to know that he’s a great man and gave the Chicago police a great name,” said Mazen Istanbouli, a DePaul University professor and close friend of the officer. “He was a giver. He never thought of himself and always thought of others.”

Istanbouli, who is blind, said he and Soderberg had known each other for about three years and met because they shared a love of running. He said the officer helped him train and competed by his side in triathlons in New York and Chicago, running, biking and swimming alongside him and serving as his guide.

The two most recently ran together this spring at a race for fallen police officers in Chicago. Istanbouli said he brought up Soderberg’s name earlier Wednesday because he wanted the officer to accompany him at an upcoming bicycle race.

Istanbouli recalled Soderberg’s humility, particularly after they ran a race and Istanbouli tried to thank him: “He said, ’I’m doing this for you, not for me. I don’t need the medal. I’m doing it for you.’ He helped me out with training and he helped me out throughout the process with swimming and running and biking, the whole thing. We did everything.”

Tobias, who knew Soderberg from the training academy, said he had served as a combat engineer in the Army and described him as “a solid, tough copper willing to go out there. He understood the job.”

Mark Donahue, president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, said: “It’s quite apparent that not only have we lost a brother-in-arms, but the entire population of this city has lost someone that, had you known him, you’d be very proud to call him one of your own as well.”

Police officers and family gathered outside the slain officer’s South Side home Wednesday evening. Officers guarding the door said relatives would have no comment.

Soderberg’s body was taken to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, where an autopsy is scheduled Thursday.

The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates shootings involving Chicago police officers, were gathering evidence at the scene, its spokesman, Mark Smith, said late Wednesday.

“I don’t know what to say. It just makes me sad,” said Ald. JoAnn Thompson, 16th, whose ward covers the area around the station. “That one individual does not speak for this whole ward. And I know there’s a lot of crime, but there’s still a lot of good people here, too.”

Ricardo, the Englewood resident who lives near the shooting, said she felt bad for the officer, who she believed was doing his job to protect people in the neighborhood.

“The police officer’s family has to bury that man, but he was just doing his job,” Ricardo said. “If they shoot a police officer right there in their backyard, what do you think they would do to me and my kids? It’s sad.”

  • Sfa_iv_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    RIP and Prayers to the family,

  • Me_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    My prayers are with Mrs. Soderberg and the family.

  • Car6_max50


    about 4 years ago


    R.I.P., prayers and thoughts to family and friends.

  • Enoughisenough_max50


    about 4 years ago



  • Chief_instigator_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Rest in Peace, Brother. Thank you for a job well done. And mayor Daley, and mayor Bloomberg, thank you as well - for helping cause the death of another decent Police Officer. Your pro-criminal policies only encourage more murders of decent Police Officers. And, thank YOU, our judges, for letting this scum of a suspect run loose on the street to carry out Daley's and Bloomberg's ill-gotten policies.

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max50_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Rest in Peace, Brother. My prayers for your family and co-workers.

  • Hpim0324_max50


    about 4 years ago



  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    RIP brother

  • Rcmp50_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Another punk who should have been in jail.... Rest in Peace Brother

  • 375956_401447159923274_1109023972_n_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Police Officer Thor Soderberg and his brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement. May he rest in peace.

    "In The Line of Duty"

    What is the meaning of "In The Line Of Duty"
    It means that an officer made the Ultimate sacrifice.
    It means that someone took an officer's life.
    A hero has fallen.

    Officers who gave their all
    To protect and serve
    Have been killed by someone whom they swore
    To protect and serve.

    It means that their badge will no longer be on their chest
    And they will join
    "The Best Of The Best"

    It means that family and friends are left behind
    To deal with the lost of a loved one.
    Only having the memories of that loved one
    Close to their hearts.
    Something no one can ever take away.

    It means that family members will stand at the officers grave
    And wonder why ...
    Why would someone take an officer's life
    And leave them there to die?
    If we only knew.

    Today an officer will place their badge on their chest
    To fulfill the dreams of heroes killed
    "In The Line Of Duty"



    In Memory Of All Police Officers Who Have
    Been Called To Make The Ultimate Sacrifice

    St. Michael Archangel Pictures, Images and Photos

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago

    Rest in Peace Officer Soderberg. God Bless.

  • 21_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Rest in peace Brother

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    I hope we meet in one of God's many mansions

    Walter Vallee Retired Deputy Chief of Special Operations 1986 Chicago Police Dept.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    On Behalf of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Retirees, we wish to share our Sincerest Condolences to Officer Soderbergs Family, Coworkers and Friends.

    Rest In Peace Comrad- You are and always, will be remembered, as a HERO!

    Phil J - Retired Corporal Maryland Trans, Auth. P.D.

  • Asafari_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I hope he has support from loved ones that will know how to comfort his wife. He died doing a courageous, sometimes thankless job. To some kid's he's probably a hero. Excellent job soldier.

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