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Officer Shot in Leg on Chicago Far South Side

Oct. 14--A Chicago Police officer was shot in the leg tonight in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood on the Far South Side, but he later was joking with the police superintendent at a local hospital.

A Chicago Fire Department ambulance was sent to the scene near the 13200 block of South Langley Avenue a little after 9:15 p.m. and later took the Calumet District officer, a man with about two years on the force who was shot in the leg, to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn with non-life-threatening wounds, according to police.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the 27-year-old injured officer, who played on the department football team, was in good spirits.

"The officer is very lucky because the femoral artery runs right next to where the officer was shot," he said during a brief press conference outside Advocate Christ Medical Center.

McCarthy said he was joking with the officer, who was surrounded by his family, and the officer "was joking right back at me."

Police responded to a shots fired call in the area just before the shooting, according to police.

The two plainclothes officers approached a group of people hanging around one another in a parking lot, police said.

When the officers approached the four male individuals, one of the people from the group ran away, McCarthy said.

That person was apparently holding their waistband, prompting the officers to run to run after the person, police said.

Police said the person whom the officers were after turned around with the gun and fired at one of the officers, who was wounded in the thigh.

His partner, meanwhile, continued after the shooter and apprehended the suspect. No gun has been recovered, McCarthy said.

The person in custody is a teen, police said.

Police are also going to be looking at surveillance video footage from the complex to aid in the shooting investigation.

Preliminary reports indicated a civilian also suffered a gunshot wound nearby and was being treated at Roseland Community Hospital. Police were trying to determine if that person may have also played a role in the shooting, Camden said.

At the scene of the shooting, residents poured into the streets Thursday night alongside dozens of police vehicles that turned the public housing complex into a parking lot.

A helicopter covered the scene, beaming a spotlight onto the ground, while red and blue lights from scores of police vehicles lit up the streets. Police dogs also were being used to search the area.

Jackie Heard, 41, and her daughter, Ashaunta, were sitting on the couch in the front room of their apartment unit when they heard up to six gunshots.

The Heards said they then grabbed Ashaunta Heard's 2 1/2-year-old son, sitting next to her on the couch, and covered him with their bodies.

"That's why I go to work, I go home, I eat, I go to sleep," said Ashaunta Heard, 21.

Jackie Heard said she's been hearing gunshots frequently over the last few weeks, noting that the complex was relatively quiet during the summer months. Ashaunta Heard said she recently escaped a liquor store in the complex area that was being held up by several armed robbers.

"You never know when a bullet will come through the wall, especially when it (the gunfire) is that close," said Jackie Heard, who has lived in the complex for about 10 years.

Some residents said the police response was large.

Some three dozen marked and unmarked squad cars were scattered throughout the complex, including along 131st Street between Ellis and Langley avenues, and south of 131st along Langley.

Police officers -- uniformed and plainclothes alike -- cordoned off Langley from 131st for a few blocks to the south.

Yellow tape blocked off the intersection of 132nd Street and Langley, near where the shooting occurred, also blocking access to an adjacent playground. Chicago Fire Department Truck No. 62 was also stationed at the intersection.

As of 11 p.m., only a few onlookers remained as the police helicopter continued to circle overhead.

Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas contributed.