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Chicago police return fire as looters hit Mag Mile, smashing windows and confronting officers

Paige Fry and Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- Hundreds of people swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.

The officers had stopped several people on Lake Street near Michigan Avenue when shots were fired from a passing car around 4:30 a.m., nearly five hours into the widespread vandalism, according to police spokesman Tom Ahern. No officers were shot but a squad car was hit, he said. It was not known if anyone in the gunman's car was shot.

Ahern said other officers were injured through the night. Earlier, an officer was seen slumped against a building by Grand and Wabash avenues as other cops tended to him. It was unclear what had happened to him. Ahern had no details on the injuries.

The looting began shortly after midnight as people darted through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise. Cars dropped off more people as the crowd grew. At least one U-Haul van was seen pulling up.

Police made "a lot of arrests" and recovered at least one gun, officials said. One woman with shopping bags in her hands fell on the sidewalk as an officer was chasing her. Another woman appeared to have been pepper-sprayed. A rock was thrown at a squad car.

The looting seemed to be centered in Streeterville and North Michigan Avenue, but some looting was reported on State Street in the Loop and on the Near North Side. By 4 a.m. police appeared to be getting things under control.

 

But some vandalism continued into the daylight hours, and the CTA suspended train and bus service into downtown during the morning rush, while the Illinois state police blocked off ramps from expressways. Bridges across the Chicago River were raised, except for the one on LaSalle Street for emergency vehicles.

People were seen running out of a PNC Bank, its windows smashed, at Huron and State streets. Down the block, other stores, including a Sally Beauty Supply, had been cleaned out by vandals. Other parts of downtown, including around Grand and Wabash avenues, were littered with trash.

Crowds repeatedly tried to bash in the windows of the Omega watch store at Delaware Place and Michigan Avenue.

"The watch store," one officer said. "They're gonna get it eventually."

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