Fallen officer Ella French helped save life of infant wounded in Englewood mass shooting

Chicago News

CHICAGO — On Thursday, July 1, a one-month-old child was among seven people wounded in a mass shooting in Englewood.

One of the Chicago police officers who rushed the baby to Comer Children’s Hospital and played a key role in saving the toddler’s life was captured by WGN cameras tending to the young shooting victim.

The officer was Ella French.

In the days that followed the deadly shooting that claimed the life of the 29-year-old officer, details continue to emerge about the impact French had on the Englewood community. French was killed in an ambush attack Saturday night in the same Chicago neighborhood where she worked to save lives.

As news spread of the deadly shooting, Terriana Smith’s mother noticed a familiar face and instantly called her brother, Charles McKenzie.

“She said, ‘That’s the officer who transported me and your niece to the hospital,'” McKenzie said.

The mass shooting in Englewood occurred near 66th and Halsted hours after a 9-year-old girl was shot in the head on the Southside. Standing outside the emergency room, WGN cameras captured French never leaving the side of Terriana, eventually escorting her on a gurney to the emergency room.   

McKenzie said that French comforted his sister as she rushed to the hospital.

“She was like, ‘Everything’s going to be OK. We got this together. Don’t panic,’ because [my sister] was panicking. So, she was like, ‘Hey, everything’s going to be OK, I got you. We’re here together. I’m not going to leave you guys.”

Chicago Police Department confirms that French was the officer who drove the baby to receive life-saving treatment.   

“She cares a lot about the community, and she loved the people inside the community,” McKenzie said. “Knowing officers like that…It’s hard to reach officers like that in this community. We really don’t have too many officers out here doing the work…”

Community activist Andrew Holmes stood outside the hospital the night of July 1 and said he remembers speaking with French. On Tuesday, he spoke up for her.

“You have a lot of officers who, when they see people out here shot, they don’t hesitate to put them in their car to rush them to the hospital and save their life,” Holmes said. “Now, who’s protecting the officers?”

At a prayer vigil held outside the University of Chicago Medical Center, Officer French was remembered, with those in attendance saying the fallen officer embodied the spirit of the motto ‘protect and serve.’ Officers said she was someone who cared deeply about the Englewood community.   

Officer Ella French and family provided photo of Terriana Smith.

Police and friends offered additional prayers for French’s wounded parter, who remains hospitalized.

“Everybody’s up there right now praying for him, and I hope everybody’s praying for him also,” said Lewis Garcia, a friend of the wounded officer.

While McKenzie says he and his family never got to thank French for her role in saving Terriana’s life, they wish to express their love and gratitude to her family.

“My condolences go out to her family,” McKenzie said. “We’ll never get a chance to thank her. Thank God for her for coming to the rescue of my little niece. We don’t know where we’d be right now.”

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