2 Charged After Police Shoot Alleged Shoplifter
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (CBS) – Two men face felony charges, and charges were pending against a third, after a shoplifting incident in Romeoville ended with police firing shots at one of the suspects as he tried to drive away, dragging an officer from the getaway car.
Robert Russell, 51, of Joliet; and Gerald Chamberlain, 28, were arrested late Thursday night outside the Kohl’s in Romeoville, along with the getaway driver, who remained hospitalized on Friday. Russell has been charged with with attempted murder, shoplifting, and obstructing a police officer. Chamberlain has been charged with felony theft.
Russell Jr. being held in lieu of $400,000 bond. Chamberlain is being held in lieu of $100,000.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports bullet casings and shattered glass littered the parking lot outside the Kohl’s in Romeoville early Friday morning. A Pontiac Sunfire – its wipers still on, and its driver’s side window shot out – sat surrounded by police cars, in the aftermath of a shoplifting attempt that turned violent.
Phil Koster, who saw it go down, said “I was within 5 feet of everything happening, so was very surreal.”
Koster said he saw a shoplifting suspect being chased by police around 11 p.m. Thursday.
“He ran right past me. The other cops are coming from the north entrance of the store, running and telling him to stop,” Koster said.
The suspect, later identified by police as Russell, made it out of the Kohl’s, and into a Pontiac Sunfire, where a getaway driver was waiting.
One of the officers ran up to the car and tried to stop Russell from getting away, but got his arm caught in the door. The getaway driver kept on going, dragging that officer from the passenger’s side door.
“The second cop had come with a gun, was telling him to stop the car, because he was dragging the cop around the parking lot,” Koster said.
When the driver failed to brake, the other officer drew his weapon and shot at the car. Koster said the officer fired four or five shots.
One bullet hit the driver in the shoulder, which promptly stopped the getaway attempt. The driver and the other suspect were arrested outside the store. A third shoplifting suspect was busted inside.
The injured suspect and police officer were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, but the officer was released Friday morning.
Charges were pending against the 52-year-old driver, who was still hospitalized Friday afternoon.
Russell and Chamberlain were due to appear for bond hearings on Saturday.
Celeste Hightower said it worries here that something like that happened in her hometown.
“Romeoville’s kind of quiet,” she said.
Moises Diaz said he thought it was “kind of weird, because nothing usually happens around here, and Romeoville’s a kind of quiet place. You know, you hear about some fights in some streets sometime, but that’s about it. It feels kind of shocking to see people get shot around here.”
In an email, a spokesperson for Kohl’s said they are cooperating with the police investigation.