On Tuesday, December 11th, we will come together to honor Officer Fernando Soto, a sixth district tactical officer with 8 years on the job, patrolling some of Chicago’s most dangerous streets.
On November 20, the day after the Mercy Hospital shooting, while the city was still in shock and mourning three service people, Officer Soto and his partner Officer Luis Escobedo were grieving for one of their brothers in blue. However, they do what cops do, they continue to patrol the streets of Chicago.
On that morning, Officer Soto saw a man walking down the street making movements that were consistent with a man holding a gun. As the officers approached the man in their vehicle, the offender spotted the officers, looked at them, and then quickly looked away hoping the Officers would not question him. The officers passed the offender but continued to observe him as the offender continued his glances at the officers to see if the officers were still watching him. Officer Soto told his partner he thought the offender was carrying a gun and they should put a stop on him.
The officers made a u-turn and Officer Soto got out of the car and called to the offender. The offender took off running in the opposite direction. Officer Soto was right behind him while his partner maneuvered the squad car to head off the offender. Officer Soto saw the offender pull out a gun. The offender shot at Officer Soto who returned fire and the offender fell to the ground. Officer Soto felt that he was hit but still secured the offender's weapon. Officer Soto had the good sense to kneel down onto one knee to reduce the distance to the ground in case he would suddenly collapse from his injury.
Officer Soto told his partner that he had been shot, so his partner examined him and let him know that the bullet had penetrated the vest and was lodged inside of it. Happily, the vest worked and Officer Soto was bruised but safe. It should be noted that a Sergeant who responded to the shooting used his medical kit to apply clotting gauze to the offender’s wounds. The gun that was used to shoot Officer Soto was one of nearly 8000 illegal guns taken off the street so far this year. Sadly, each of those guns removed could have ended like this encounter with Officer Soto.
The vest that saved Officer Soto was one he received through the Get Behind the Vest Campaign. His vest is one of over 8000 vests purchased by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for Chicago Police Officers. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation realizes that these vests expire and we are dedicated to keeping our officers safe. We have committed to purchasing an additional 500 vests each year to ensure no officer protects the streets without a vest that won’t help protect them.
Every day there are countless officers out there doing a job that many citizens of Chicago do not want to do. These are the men and women who walk into a dark alley or gangway looking for the bad guys, they are the ones who answer our calls for help, and risk their lives without giving it a second thought. Officer Soto is one of those officers and we are proud to make him our Officer of the Month for December presented by Galls.