CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A 24-year old man was sworn in on Monday as a police officer in west suburban Aurora, the same city where his 6-year-old brother was killed in 1996.
Jason Contreras was one of 10 new police officers sworn-in at Aurora’s City Hall on Monday morning.
Contreras did not want to speak publicly after the ceremony but his mother, Sandi Saltijeral calls him “an amazing kid” and “a hero.”
Saltijeral said she has so many emotions.
“Thinking about Nico. Thinking about Jason. Praying that he stays safe at the same time blessed that he went down the right path,” she said.
Saltijeral’s son, Nico, was killed when two men shot into the back of his grandparents’ home in Aurora in November 1996. The two Kane County assistant state’s attorneys who prosecuted the crime, Sal LoPiccolo and Mark Stajdohar, were on hand for Monday’s swearing-in ceremoney.
LoPiccolo said it is a great day for the city of Aurora to have Contreras as a police officer.
“[Contreras] did a great job of taking to heart what was a horrible situation and making something good out of it,” LoPiccolo said.
The shooter, Mark Downs, was sentenced to 70 years in prison. His accomplice, Elias Diaz, received a 60 year sentence.
Jason Contreras graduated from Plano High School in 2011, from Western Illinois University in 2015 and started work as a Plano police officer a year ago.
Aurora Deputy Police Chief Keith Jackson said Contreras and three others who were sworn-in Monday are already police officers. They will begin field training after a couple of weeks training in-house. The other six new officers will go to the police academy at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“This is a tribute to the kid, to Jason, to be able to still pursue this profession in light of the tragedy that he had and to do it here in Aurora. We’re glad to have him,” Jackson said.