CHICAGO (CBS) — A retired Chicago police deputy chief was honored Tuesday for fighting back when he was shot during a robbery attempt at a South Side park two months ago.
Fred Coffey, 73, served and protected as a member of the Chicago Police Department for 40 years, but nearly lost his life in September, when a young man tried to rob him as he was working out.
Coffey was sitting on a bench while getting ready for his daily workout on Sept. 14 at Eckersall Stadium, near 82nd and Essex, when a 21-year-old man tried to rob him. Coffey said the man pulled a gun from a backpack and said “give me all you’ve got.”
“I pushed him back and I ran toward the stairway,” Coffey said.
Then Coffey turned at the stairway and the suspect opened fire wounding Coffey in a shoulder. Coffey pulled out his own snub-nose revolver and returned fire, hitting the suspect in a leg.
Coffey said, even though he has been retired 10 years, he still has some of the instincts he developed as an officer.
“It’s one of them situations where, when you spent almost 40 years on the police department, a certain amount of it is retained in your system,” he said.
The suspect fled but was later caught on 78th and Oglesby.
Keith Vaughns, 21, was charged with attempted armed robbery, attempted murder, aggravated battery, and unlawful use of a weapon.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honored Coffey with their Officer of the Month Award. Executive director Phil Cline said the award normally goes to active officers, but Coffey’s story was a special case.
“He was one of the best marksmen on the Chicago Police Department, so that guy really picked the wrong guy to rob that day,” said Cline, a former Chicago police superintendent.
Coffey said he never had to shoot anyone while he was a police officer.
“I was glad of, because it wasn’t my intent to be trying to shoot somebody, or take their life, because that person has a family like I have,” he said.
Coffey said he was surprised to receive the award. He said his gunshot wound has healed, and doctors gave him a clean bill of health.