May 2012

This incident occurred on a Saturday morning, February 15, 1992 at approximately 8:57am. I monitored a call from dispatch to one of the beat cars, regarding a hold-up alarm at the currency exchange store on the 5900 block of North Clark Street.

Escaping emptyhanded, the gunmen ran down the sidewalk on the 5900 block of North Clark Street, firing automatic weapons at police and leaving a trail of spent shells and terrified passersby, police and witnesses said.

Healy, the first officer responding to a silent alarm, was shot twice. One bullet entered her left shoulder. The other struck her lower abdomen but exited without causing serious injury, according to Sheldon Maltz, a hospital trauma surgeon.

Schodtler, who arrived minutes later, was shot once, the bullet entering his right buttock. The bullet was removed from his groin in surgery Saturday, according to Maltz.

“They are extremely lucky to be alive,“ Maltz said.

Healy was not wearing a bullet-proof vest but Schodtler was, police said.

The robbery attempt began about 9 a.m. Saturday. One of the three gunmen apparently was waiting nearby for the store manager to open the Clark-Ridge Currency Exchange Inc., 5918 N. Clark St. The gunman rushed up behind the manager as she opened the store`s front door, according to Townsend. Police declined to identify the manager.

After pushing the manager inside, the man was joined by two accomplices, who forced the manager to shut off the store`s alarm system, then bound her in the exchange`s back room, behind a partition and windows, police said. But the deactivation of the alarm system triggered a second, silent alarm, police said.

With gun drawn, Healy entered the store and was almost immediately shot at by two of the men, Townsend said. She fired back five times, but it is unknown whether the bullets struck either of the assailants, police said.

The fleeing gunmen ran south on Clark Street, where they were confronted by Schodtler, according to Townsend. The gunmen opened fire on Schodtler. Schodtler fired three rounds at the men, Townsend said.

As Schodtler lay wounded in the street near squad cars double-parked on Clark Street, a busy commercial corridor, passing motorists swerved or stopped to avoid him, said Claire Cordwell, 38, a witness who was driving by the scene.

“I saw the one officer go down in the street,“ Cordwell said. “I thought someone got hit by a car.“

Cordwell, owner of The Dog Scene, a grooming shop at 5904 N. Clark, said she saw the gunmen running fast along the row of storefronts. She said one of her clients was walking toward the store with her Maltese dog in tow when one of the men pointed a gun in her face.

The gunman did not fire at the woman, and kept running, Cordwell said.

Ray Boger, 50, had opened his new restaurant, Bill`s Grill, for the first time Saturday when he heard the gunfire and saw several men running by his 24- hour establishment at 5902 N. Clark, he said.

“I just heard screaming and hollering,“ Boger said. “It`s got me stunned.“

One of the robbers apparently left a footprint on an apartment building`s front lawn at Paulina Street and Thorndale Avenue, where police investigators were using small heaters to dry the wet ground so they could make a plaster cast of the footprint.

Parked near that corner was a white automobile that the three men used in their escape, according to Townsend. Police are unsure whether a fourth man was waiting in the car. Police believe the car had out-of-state license plates.

The currency exchange`s front-door window was shattered by gunfire, and Iliana Hernandez, owner of a beauty salon at 5908 N. Clark, found a bullet hole in her front window and spent shells in front of her store, she said. She usually opens at 9 a.m. with two or three customers waiting on the sidewalk, but she decided to open late Saturday, she said.

The gunfire roused many bleary-eyed residents in apartments above the storefronts lining the Clark Street and Ridge Boulevard intersection.

False alarms regularly occur at the currency exchange, Cordwell said. Several residents said that when they heard Saturday`s gunfire, they first thought it came from a street gang. But when they looked out their apartment windows, they were stunned to find a wounded officer on the pavement of Clark Street, they said.

“It`s not getting any better, with the gangs,“ said neighborhood resident Abertina Phillips, 27.

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