Twenty years before fatally shooting Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, Shomari Legghette committed an armed robbery in Forest Park.
At about 5:15 a.m. on Jan. 24, 1998, a man walked outside to warm his Nissan parked on the 800 block of Circle Avenue, returning back inside once he started the car, according to a Forest Park police report. Fifteen minutes later, he returned to the small car with a woman.
The woman entered the driver’s side of the car and the man got in the passenger seat. But before she could close the driver’s door, Legghette, then-24-years-old, of Chicago, grabbed the car, asking if he could have “a light.” He then said, “Ma’am can I please have your wallet?” His hands were tucked in his jacket pocket, pointing what looked like a concealed gun at the woman. She told him no, saying that she only had $4. “Is it worth it?” she asked Legghette. The passenger said, “Honey, give it to him.” Legghette replied, “Ma’am can I please have your wallet?” She handed him her wallet, which contained $5, a green keyring and a few IDs.
Another offender approached the passenger of the vehicle, pointing a small chrome handgun at the man and saying, “Give me all your money and any jewelry too.” The man complied, handing him a wallet containing $130. Legghette then told the two, “Get back in your (expletive) house.” The victims walked back to their home, but noticed the offenders walking west on Lexington Street. Police later found a gun lying on the 800 block of Circle Avenue.
About six blocks from the armed robbery, police spotted Legghette in a gray Buick with another offender, stopped at the intersection of Harrison Street and Desplaines Avenue. The two continued west onto I-290, and officers followed them onto the interstate. Just west of the 25th Street exit, Legghette threw the woman’s wallet from the car and the Buick swerved in an out of traffic lanes, forcing the police into the emergency lane for safety. The Buick then accelerated to a high rate of speed, leaving police behind with their car lights flashing.
Eventually, Forest Park police caught up to the Buick, and continued to pursue Legghette southbound on I-294. As the highway split, police watched Legghette throw a chrome-colored handgun from the vehicle. The Buick then exited south to Cicero Avenue and turned west onto 135th Street in Crestwood. Legghette and the driver parked at the 8000 block of 135th Street and ran north. Police spotted Legghette at the 8000 block of Aberdeen Drive in Palos Heights and took him into custody, where he was later transported to the Forest Park Police Department. The other offender escaped. At the station, Legghette yelled out, “How can you charge me with armed robbery when the gun wasn’t even loaded?” He then invoked the right to remain silent.
After victims positively identified Legghette in a police lineup on Jan. 26, 1998, Legghette said he’d like to tell his side of the story. He told officers that between 12 and 1 a.m. on Jan. 24, he was walking to Joyce Liquors store. He said he saw a man he recognized driving a Buick nearby, and asked for a ride to his mother’s house. The driver agreed to give him a ride. The man then drove to Devon Avenue in Chicago to pick up his girlfriend and entered an apartment building, while Legghette stayed in the car. Ten minutes later, the driver returned to the Buick and revealed a chrome semi-automatic handgun, telling Legghette that he was going to “take care of some business.” Legghette said the man was looking for someone to rob. He drove to the area of 46th and Federal streets, and then got out of the car and walked into a building out of Legghette’s view. About 10 minutes later, he returned to the car and drove to an Amoco gas station near 43rd Street and Wentworth Avenue. Then, the two drove to Forest Park.
The duo drove around Forest Park until they saw a small car running. They approached the car, threatened the couple and pocketed their cash, keys and identification. Legghette was charged with two counts of armed robbery. A judge gave him a relatively stiff sentence of 16 years for the Forest Park armed robbery, but Legghette was out in less than 10.
Legghette later went on to commit a series of crimes, most seriously gunning down Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center in the Loop on Feb. 14. Bauer, 53, had been chasing Legghette in connection to a drug sale and shooting that occurred on Lower Wacker Drive. Wife Erin Bauer and 13-year-old daughter Grace survive him.
In 2016, Bauer assumed the position of Police Commander of the Near North District. In that role, he complained about the difficulty of clearing repeat offenders like Legghette from the street.
“We’re not talking about a guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” he said in a November 2017 interview with Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”