Carbondale police officer, 26, seriously injured in shooting

(Daily Egyptian file photograph)

(Daily Egyptian file photograph)

By Luke Nozicka

A 26-year-old Carbondale police officer is in serious condition after he was shot Sunday night in his car while pursuing a suspect in the city’s northeast section, authorities say.

The incident occurred at 11:38 p.m. after Carbondale officers were on patrol in the 700 block of North Robert A. Stalls Street and heard gunshots, police said.

Officers drove toward the source of gunfire to find a tan, four-door vehicle speeding away from the area.

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A pursuit began when Carbondale police tried to stop the fleeing vehicle, which “ultimately traveled north on North Marion Street and then east into the 2400 block of Dillinger Road,” Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs said during a press conference Monday.

During the chase a suspect fired several gunshots, striking through the officer’s windshield and hitting him.

Grubbs said the officer, whose name is not being released “out of respect for he and his family,” was alone in the vehicle during the shooting. He would not say how many rounds hit the officer or his vehicle.

Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs speaks to reporters Monday afternoon about the shooting of a Carbondale police officer while Illinois State Police District 13 commander William D. Sons looks on at the Carbondale Public Safety building. (Isabel Miller for the Daily Egyptian)

Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs speaks to reporters Monday about the shooting of a Carbondale police officer while Illinois State Police District 13 commander William D. Sons looks on at the Carbondale Public Safety Building. (Isabel Miller for dailyegyptian.com)

While the department would not name the injured officer, a GoFundMe page created to raise money for his medical bills contained his name, though the page’s creator deleted the officer’s name after a Daily Egyptian reporter contacted him.

In less than a day, the page raised more than $5,700 through 108 donations.

Standing alongside city, county and state officials, Grubbs said the officer — who has been with Carbondale police since 2013 — is in serious but stable condition as of Monday afternoon.

The officer was initially taken to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale for a gunshot wound, but was transported to a St. Louis area hospital for additional care.

Police did not return fire during the shooting, the city’s top cop said.

Grubbs said his department is pursuing two suspects, who should be considered armed and dangerous, in the shooting that occurred less than two miles from campus.

He said the suspects can only be described as two black males at this time.

The vehicle the suspects drove — a Pontiac Grand Prix — was found abandoned and “destroyed by fire” on Dewmaine Road in Williamson County, Grubbs said.

During the nearly 20-minute long news conference, Grubbs thanked the officer for his bravery, saying that his department has received “overwhelming support” since the shooting.

Illinois State Police are investigating the incident, with help from the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and SIU police.

People gather Monday for a Blue Lives Matter rally near the pavilion in downtown Carbondale. (Isabel Miller for dailyegyptian.com)

People gather Monday for a Blue Lives Matter rally near the pavilion in downtown Carbondale. (Isabel Miller for dailyegyptian.com)

About an hour before the press conference, at least a dozen people gathered near the pavilion in downtown Carbondale for a Blue Lives Matter rally. Some held signs that read, “We back the badge,” and “Police Lives Matter.”

“Everybody needs to know that they need to support local law enforcement,” retired police officer Rich Brunner, who worked for the Carbondale Police Department for 28 years, said at the rally he organized. “[Officers] want to go home every night to their families. … We’re all very much the same and people forget that.”

The incident comes during a year when more people have been shot in Carbondale than any other year in the last 10, according to news reports and police data.

Eight months into the year so far, at least 13 people have been shot in Carbondale, compared to one in all of last year and six in 2014.

Carbondale gunshot victims, homicides

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call Carbondale police at (618) 457-3200, the Carbondale/SIU Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (618) 549-COPS (2677) or the Murphysboro/Jackson County anonymous tip line at (618) 687-COPS (2677).

Grubbs said his department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those involved in shooting the young officer.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.

Staff writer Brey Mong Delane contributed to this report. 

Luke Nozicka is the Daily Egyptian’s incoming editor-in-chief. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @lukenozicka

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