By Bob Uphues
Police continue to hunt for a man who led officers on a chase that resulted in a two-and-a-half hour manhunt in and around Swan Pond Park involving a pair of K-9 units and a Cook County Sheriff's Police helicopter during the early morning hours of Aug. 11.
According to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, investigators know who they are looking for but have not yet released his name because he has not been arrested or charged. However, the suspect, said Weitzel, has a long and violent criminal record and at the time of the Riverside incident was on parole for a 2008 conviction for attempted murder and a 2016 conviction for unlawful use of a weapon.
Police also reported recovering a 9 mm Glock 19 handgun with a drum-style magazine that held 53 rounds of ammunition, including one in the chamber, directly in front of the car the suspect abandoned after it struck a tree in the park. The gun, said police, was modified in order to make it fully automatic.
In addition, the gun reportedly had been reported stolen out of Lowell, Indiana. Riverside police have asked the ATF to conduct a trace on the gun.
"This guy is a very violent individual," said Weitzel.
Police may have apprehended the suspect that morning, but he reportedly tapped on the window of a Scottswood Road home, told a resident that his car had broken down and that he needed to use a phone to call for a ride. After that call was made, the suspect then waited at the residence to be picked up while police were looking for him near Swan Pond.
The incident began as a routine traffic stop. An officer on patrol reported clocking a vehicle traveling at 55 mph in a 30 mph zone while southbound in the 3400 block of Harlem Avenue just after midnight.
Pulled over near Ogden Avenue, the driver reportedly told police he was on his way to pick up his wife from work. The driver had a valid license, but police reported noticing the odor of burnt cannabis coming from the vehicle.
When police asked the driver to step out of the vehicle, the driver reportedly sped away westbound on Ogden Avenue. The car turned the wrong way on Miller Road and then continued west on Riverside Road, though a barricaded construction area where the car drove up onto front lawns near Gage Road, struck a landscaping berm in front of a home and then sped past the police station and continued the wrong way down Burling Road, where an oncoming car forced the driver off the roadway and about 100 feet into Swan Pond Park, where the vehicle spun out and hit a tree.
The driver ran off, but police detained a 22-year-old Chicago man who was a passenger. According to police, the passenger was under the influence of drugs and could not immediately be interviewed. After providing police with a statement, the passenger was released without being charged.