CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois State Police trooper died Friday after being shot on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, authorities said. The incident happened on the same day the state started stepping up patrols in response to a surge in shootings involving motorists in the city.
The trooper was pronounced dead at 2:16 p.m. Friday at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. An autopsy will be conducted, she said.
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly identified the dead officer as 36-year-old District Chicago Trooper Gerald Mason, an 11 year veteran with the Illinois State Police.
"He was an amazing District Chicago trooper," Kelly said during a brief news conference Friday evening. "Trooper Mason was one of the many fearless Troopers assigned to ISP District Chicago. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Mason and the whole ISP family while we continue to grieve and work through this tragedy."
Kelly said there was no threat to public safety or law enforcement.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the shooting occurred shortly before 2 p.m. on the inbound lanes of the Dan Ryan at 43rd Street on the city's South Side.
It was reported that a woman was driving on the inbound Dan Ryan around 1:45 p.m. when she saw his car against the median. The woman went to help, found Mason inside, and used his radio to call for help.
Witnesses said they saw police pull Mason out of the car and take him to the hospital themselves in an unmarked police car.
Mason's mother, Linda Mason, told reporters that she received a call from her younger son after he learned about a shooting involving a trooper. She called Gerald's phone, but he didn't answer. A short time later, she received a call from the University of Chicago Medical Center and was told to head to the hospital right away.
"I love him, I'm going to miss him so so so so much, my heart hurts so bad," Linda Mason said.
The fallen trooper's mother added her son simply wanted to make the world a better place.
"That's why he became a cop," she said. "He became a cop, I became a nurse. We wanted to save people."
A day earlier, the Illinois State Police announced it would more than double patrols in the Chicago area beginning Friday, a 157% increase, in response to a surge in shootings on expressways over the past two years.
Before Friday, there have been more than 185 shootings on expressways in the region this year, according to the agency, compared to a total of about 130 shootings last year, and just over 50 in 2019.
Of the 185 shootings in 2021, only nine people have been arrested and charged.
Notes & References
Staff, CBS 2 Chicago. “Illinois State Police Trooper Gerald Mason Dead after Being Found Shot in His SUV on Dan Ryan Expressway.” CBS Chicago. CBS Chicago, October 1, 2021. https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2021/10/01/illinois-state-police-trooper-gerald-mason-wounded-in-shooting-on-dan-ryan-expressway/. ↩︎
Holmes, Evelyn, and Liz Nagy. “Dan Ryan Shooting Kills Il State Trooper Id'd as Gerald Mason, 36.” ABC7 Chicago. WLS-TV, October 2, 2021. https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-shooting-today-dan-ryan-expressway-state-trooper/11069376/. ↩︎
NBC Chicago. “'Hurts to Lose Him:' Mother Opens up after Trooper Dies in Dan Ryan Shooting.” NBC Chicago. NBC Chicago, October 1, 2021. https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/hurts-to-lose-him-mother-opens-up-after-trooper-dies-in-dan-ryan-shooting/2627064/. ↩︎