CHICAGO -- Tuesday was a sad day in the city's Old Town neighborhood as residents mourned the loss of Commander Paul Bauer, 53, who was fatally shot near the Thompson Center.
Cmdr. Bauer was shot while assisting a tactical team pursuing a fleeing suspect near a state government office building in downtown Chicago.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer was shot around 2 p.m. at the Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph Street. It wasn't immediately clear if the shooting occurred inside or outside the building.
"I was heartbroken. I was actually walking to a meeting in the neighborhood afterward and I took the wrong turn three times," Charlie Branda, Art on Sedgwick, said.
Branda got to know Cmdr. Bauer during his frequent “Coffee with the Commander” meetings at nearby Eva’s Cafe and at her Art on Sedgwick storefront.
"Just last week he was in this room with a big community meeting to talk with members of the community. He was just so present and supportive of community efforts 44 to bring people together," Branda said.
Many said he was a leader and respected in the community.
"Approachable, absolutely. He wanted perception. When you saw him, he didn't want to be the enemy. He really tried to get the officers to communicate and not to rush to judgment. It had relaxed over here a whole lot since he’s been here. I think it's just, just a tragedy man, I wouldn’t wish that fate in anybody," Justin Thomas said.
A fate found Tuesday, taking a man away from his family, a colleague away from the CPD and a commander away from his community.
"It’s hard for me today, yes, because once you build that rapport with someone, not to say that the next person that comes along wont have the same rapport, but you never know. It's hard to lose someone in the community. It's even harder to lose someone I could actually say was a friend," Adell Thomas, a community leader, said.
Police officers honored the fallen officer with a procession Tuesday evening.
A long line of Cmdr. Baur's fellow officers with blue lights on followed along.
Only moments before choking back tears, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson delivered the news outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
From the moment word began to spread that Cmdr. Bauer had been shot, his family and his brothers and sisters rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital including those on the mounted patrol, a unit he once commanded as well only several years ago.
As officers come to terms with what has happened, the city's top cop made a plea to to those at home.
"I just asked the citizens of the city to keep the Bauer family in their prayers. I've been meeting with his wife and daughter this is a difficult day for us but we will get through it. I ask the entire city for your thoughts and prayers. Today is difficult," he said.