When he peered out, he saw off-duty police officer Thomas Wortham IV on the ground. Two other bodies lay still nearby.
As he ran over to check on the officer, Wortham’s father approached and aimed two guns at him.
“Don’t touch him, I’ll shoot you,” the elder Wortham shouted, apparently believing Stewart was one of his son’s assailants.
Stewart quickly identified himself. “Oh, Stewart,” the father said. “These guys were trying to rob my son and I shot both of them.”
Wortham’s son was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead hours later. One of the robbers was dead on the scene, while the other was taken in serious to critical condition to the same hospital.
Two other suspects fled in a red Nissan Maxima that was later found by police. The two suspects remain at large.
Police say the four suspects had pulled up to the home of the officer’s parents at 85th Street and South King Drive in the Chatham neighborhood about 11:30 p.m. and tried to steal the motorcycle that Wortham had recently bought himself as a coming home present. He had just served his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Wortham, of the Englewood Police District, was 30 and single, and had been on the force for three years, according to Supt. Jody Weis.
Only five days ago, he had attended a memorial at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. for police officers killed in the line of duty last year. He was active in working against crime in his neighborhood and nearby Nat King Cole Park, where he was the Cole Park advisory council president. (Read more about Wortham HERE)
Wortham had ridden his motorcycle to his parents’ house Wednesday night to show them pictures from the memorial, according to Ald. Freddenna Lyle (6th) said.
Wortham’s father, also named Thomas, watched from the door as Wortham left and got on his bike about 11:25 p.m., the alderman said.
The father saw at least two men get out of the Nissan and try to steal the motorcycle, according to Lyle and police.
The father grabbed his gun and came to his son’s aid, sources said. In the exchange of gunfire, Wortham was shot several times and two of the suspects were wounded, authorities said. Retired police officers are allowed to keep guns, officials said.
The two other robbers fled in the Nissan Maxima onto the Dan Ryan Expressway and headed north, police said.
“This is a tragedy. This young man survived two tours in Iraq, and came home and got murdered on the streets in front of his house that he grew up in,” said Lyle, who has known the officer and his family for years. “In front of his father, it’s just unbelieveable.”
“When they talk about the good die young, this is the perfect example. He was nice. He was mannerable. He was polite.”
Mayor Richard Daley spoke about the officer at an unrelated news conference this morning.
“The entire city of Chicago extends condolences and prayers to the family. We think of him serving not only our city, but our country,” Daley said.
He said the officer’s death should highlight the importance of hand gun laws, Daley said.
“I hope it does,” he said. “Here’s a young man who served twice in Iraq, father a police officer, an unbelievable police officer. You’d better believe it, it does add in some (importance). It should be. It should wake up America.”
Weis said police had located a vehicle that witnesses reported fleeing from the scene.
Early this morning, the body of one of the suspects lay in the street near the scene of the attack, a few feet away from a motorcycle parked in the middle of the street. He was covered by a white sheet.
The dead suspect was identified as Brian Floyd, 20, of the 3700 block of South Wentworth Avenue.
About 12:30 a.m., a woman screaming “That’s my baby, that’s my baby” was escorted to a police car. Police said she was the mother of one of the suspects.
The other suspect and the officer were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Kevin MacGregor. Wortham was shot more than once.
Records show Floyd was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in 2007, but he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and got 1 year conditional discharge and 10 days of community service.
A second 2007 case for misdemeanor attempted criminal trespass to a vehicle was dropped. He had a pending misdemeanor case from this year for gambling/playing games of chance.
The two suspects being sought have arrest records for drug and gun possession.
The shooting took place in the Chatham neighborhood, across the street from Nat King Cole Park. As president of the park’s advisory council, Wortham had been trying to find ways to combat violence in the neighborhood.
“He was part of a group of residents concerned about the park,” Lyle said. “They were working on trying to make sure things went on as they should. He was there all the time. We were getting ready to have a community event this Saturday. … I don’t think we’ll have it now.
“After the last shooting in the park (in late April) we were going to take back the park on the first 80 degree day. That was this week. We are not going to give up the park to the thugs. The residents were going to converge there with lawn chairs.”
Neighbors said the officer had attended Brother Rice High School. His father, they said, is also a military veteran.
King Drive was blocked off from 87th to 84th this morning as police continued to investigate the shooting.
Dozens of officers — some in blue uniforms and vests, some in plainclothes, some in green uniforms — worked around a single-story brick house on the northeast corner of King and 85th. Some of them carried rifles.
Also on the scene were two mobile command centers and at least a dozen marked and unmarked police cars and SUVs.
Several neighbors gathered on the street, discussing the shooting and the recent rash of violence at Nat King Cole Park across the street from the house.
“It’s unbelievable,” said neighbor Elliot Powell, who has lived near the Worthams for 29 years. “This used to be a quiet neighborhood.”
Powell said he was at home Wednesday night when he heard what sounded like firecrackers.
“I just heard, ‘pow, pow, pow,’” said Powell. “Then I ran to the front window and saw two people lying in the street and Wortham’s father pacing up and down.”
Nancy Termon, who lives with her husband Ron Ernest down the street, said she heard at least six shots.
“I got up and put on my jeans and looked out the window,” Termon said. “I was kind of scared because it was so loud being just across the street.”
Termon said she saw a man wearing a white shirt lying on the street. “I said, ‘Oh my God, somebody’s lying on the ground,’” Termon said.
Ernest said violence seems to have taken over the community. “It’s an urban terror,” he said.
Termon said she does not let her two grandchildren play at Cole Park, where a group of people were shot about a month ago.
Termon and Ernest said they were too shaken up to go to sleep as they headed back inside to warm up.
Another resident, who lives on Vernon, said there have been at least three recent shootings at the park and his mother was carjacked a few weeks ago.
By about 4 a.m., police cars were lining streets between Christ Medical Center and the medical examiner’s office, as Weis and others escorted the officer’s body to the office. Nearly 100 vehicles, most of them police cars, were part of the procession.
This is the second officer from the Englewood District killed in the last year. Officer Alejandro “Alex” Valadez was killed in the line of duty last year.
“The entire district is just reeling right now,” said Lt. Maureen Biggane, a police spokeswoman.
Officials from the Independent Police Review Authority are investigating whether Wortham fired his weapon during the shooting, said Curtis Tarver, a spokesman for the agency, which examines shootings involving Chicago police officers.