He followed his father into law enforcement, he carried a gun, and it couldn’t save him from the men who killed him for his motorcycle. Today a lawsuit was filed over the murder of Chicago Police officer and Iraq War veteran Thomas Wortham. It’s a suit that’s focused on this one terrible homicide, but it’s really about so-called straw purchases of guns elsewhere to supply criminals in Chicago. It’s not the first we’ve heard of a gun trafficking ring bringing weapons here from Mississippi, but it’s the first lawsuit filed to stop it.
“A few days before his death, Tommy told the Chicago Tribune that when people think of the south side of Chicago, they think of violence,” said Thomas Wortham III, not long after, he would break down while discussing the final days of his only son.
“He went on to say, ‘we’re gonna fix this,’” said the elder Wortham, sobbing, “so people won’t have to think of the south side as a violent place.”
Chicago Police officer Thomas Wortham IV was leaving his parents Chatham home three years ago when four purported gang members tried to rob him of his motorcycle; taking his life with an illegal handgun later found at the scene. Today a federal lawsuit was filed against the Mississippi pawn shop that sold that gun and two men involved in buying it; “Our purpose in bringing these cases is to place a price on irresponsible conduct that supplies criminals,” said John Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Alleged in the 8-count complaint, that Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Mississippi did nothing to follow guidelines aimed at stopping illegal gun purchases. That it should have been suspicious because one of the co-defendants bought several handguns with cash. Calls to the shop today went unanswered.
And while the Wortham family is not anti-gun- in fact, two of its members were once gun-toting Chicago cops- but one is retired, the other, dead after facing war overseas and at home, “It’s really ironic that he was able to survive two tours of duty in Iraq, but could not survive the streets of the south side of Chicago,” said Carolyn Wortham, Tommy’s mother.
The suit, filed by the Brady Center calls Officer Wortham’s death a foreseeable consequence of gun trafficking, and weighs in on the current gun debate by calling this a case in which a good man with a gun couldn’t be saved by a gun.