A Chicago police officer is dead and another is fighting for his life following a shooting during a traffic stop
By Alta Spells and Claudia Dominguez, CNN
(CNN) -- One Chicago police officer is dead and another is fighting for his life after they were shot while conducting a traffic stop Saturday night, officials said.
Three suspects are in custody, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference Sunday.
"These officers put the safety and lives of others above their own, serving with courage and honor despite knowing the cost," he said in an earlier statement. "We will never forget the sacrifices these officers made to protect this city. We cannot forget."
Three officers assigned to the department's Community Safety Team were conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle with three occupants near 63rd Street and South Bell Avenue at around 9 p.m. Saturday when they were fired upon, Brown said at the news conference.
The officers returned fire, and two officers were struck in the exchange of gunfire, Brown said. One of the "offenders" was also hit and taken to a local hospital, he said.
The officers were rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where one of them -- later identified as 29-year-old Ella French -- died. The other officer, who has been with the department for six years, is in critical condition and "fighting for his life," Brown said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared Sunday a day of mourning in the city, requesting all flags be flown at half-staff.
"Tragedy has struck again," she said. "We mourn the loss of a young officer."
A weapon was recovered at the scene, Brown said. All three occupants of the vehicle were in custody Sunday morning after police located the female suspect, who was initially missing.
Based on preliminary information, Brown said, police believe it was a male passenger who opened fire on the officers. The suspects don't have extensive criminal backgrounds, Brown said.
Police were interviewing the suspects Sunday morning. None of them had yet been charged.
The officers were wearing body cameras and the department is reviewing footage of the incident, Brown said.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident, police said in a statement. Officers involved "will be placed on routine administrative duties for a period of 30 days."
Fallen officer mourned: 'We cannot forget'
French had more than three years with the Chicago police force, according to Brown.
"Our collective hearts are broken by this tragic and senseless death of PO Ella French," Chicago Police spokesperson Tom Ahern wrote in a tweet Sunday evening.
"Her life was taken in service to others. Please hold Officer French, her critically wounded partner and their loved ones in your prayers," Ahern wrote.
Early Sunday, Chicago police officers lined the road leading to the Chicago Medical Examiner's Office as a trio of bagpipers and a single drummer escorted the procession for her.
In a solemn show of support, the waiting officers stood silently at attention, saluting the ambulance as its lights flashed, slowly passing before turning into the facility.
Once the vehicle was inside the driveway, the officers moved closer to the parked ambulance sitting in a receiving area at the office.
"We will never forget the sacrifices these officers made to protect this city," Brown said in an earlier statement. "We cannot forget."
According to Brown, 38 Chicago police have now been shot at or shot in 2021, and 11 of them have been struck.
In Sunday's news conference, Brown praised the officers of the Chicago police force, saying, "They went to work today after last night's tragic events."
"Officers are at work now, right now, continuing this brave, courageous work of protecting the people of Chicago," he said. "It's in the honor of our lost officer that we work, that we sacrifice, that we serve, that we risk everything."
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