By Nona Tepper
The Forest Park auxiliary police officer, whose gun was stolen and later used to kill a man, did not properly secure his weapon, according to Police Chief Thomas Aftanas. The man resigned over the weekend, Aftanas said.
"Throughout the years there have been guns taken out of vehicles in Forest Park, in residential burglaries, and it's not just in Forest Park, it's throughout the entire Chicago area that it happens," the police chief said.
Between 3 and 8:30 a.m. on June 9, someone broke into a Volkswagen parked on the 300 block of Circle and stole a Glock 9 mm pistol, ammunition, and a Forest Park Police Department-issue nylon belt, according to the police report. The auxiliary officer told police he parked in front of St. John Lutheran Church that morning and planned to go to the gun range the next day.
"A gun that's in a vehicle, in the back seat of a vehicle or in plain view of the vehicle, at least in my opinion, would not be proper storage," Aftanas said.
While he said there are no official storage requirements, he believes guns should be locked in glove compartments, trunks or otherwise secured in a safe. When he's off-duty, Aftanas said, he keeps his gun in a safe at home.
"Gun-related homicides are rare in Forest Park, but obviously they do [happen] and can happen anywhere," he said.
At 1:30 p.m. the same day, someone found some of the auxiliary officer's stolen goods.
A man discovered the missing police belt while walking west in the Bergman Court alley, according to a separate police report. The man picked up the belt, walked to Healy's Westside, 7321 Madison St., and called police, asking them to pick it up. The black nylon belt contained an empty gun holster, radio pouch, a pair of handcuffs and two partially loaded gun magazines.
Police put out a notice to all officers, saying they found the department-issued items. The auxiliary officer checked his car and found his belt and pistol missing, as well as a bulletproof vest. He then noticed several pry marks to his driver's-side door. The officer positively identified the belt as his, and told police the Glock pistol contained an empty magazine.
The man had worked part-time for the department since January 2015 and was not on-duty when the theft occurred, Aftanas said, noting that he hadn't worked in the department for weeks. When he did work, he acted in the same capacity as the other 21 auxiliary officers on staff at Forest Park, riding along with full-time officers, helping control crowds at local events, directing traffic for church-goers at Living Word Christian Center among other duties.
Auxiliary officers must apply for the position at village hall, complete 40 hours of state gun training and interview with staff before being accepted. They are not sworn police officers, earn $14.60 per hour, and Aftanas said the department generally tries to pair them with sworn police.
In addition to meeting these requirements, the man also held a valid concealed/carry permit with the state of Illinois.
"It's equipment necessary to do his job here, and it has to be properly stored," Aftanas said.
The man's gun was found the following morning, after police responded to calls of shots fired about 4:28 a.m. and found a man lying at the intersection of Elgin and Adams, according to a separate police report. Officers arrived at the scene and found Michael Harris, 66, of Chicago, lying on the sidewalk with his eyes open and a pool of blood streaming from his head.
Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest police searched nearby yards until they found a man who matched the description of the subject crouching in a crawl space on the 700 block of South Maple.
Martell Dorsey, 23, of Maywood, emerged, was handcuffed and taken to the station.
Police charged Dorsey with one count of first-degree murder and one count of felony murder in the commission of robbery. The Forest Park Investigative Division, along with the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and Forensics, are investigating the shooting. The gun he used was identified as the auxiliary officer's stolen pistol.
Dorsey is currently in Cook County Jail on a $250,000 bond. His next court date is June 26 at Maybrook Courthouse in Maywood.
"I know people are shaken up by this, but I think it was a random crime," Aftanas said. "If any positive can be taken about it, he was quickly apprehended and charged."