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updated: 8/3/2010 4:28 PM

Arlington Heights man shot during armed standoff

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  • Scene from a standoff early this morning in Arlington Heights.

      Scene from a standoff early this morning in Arlington Heights.
    Courtesy Dan Currier

 
 

A domestic disturbance that ended in a shootout with Arlington Heights police left the gunman in critical condition in what's believed to be the first shooting by village police in decades.

Daniel A. Moreno, 28, of the 400 block of West Palatine Road was in critical condition Monday at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, said Police Cmdr. Kenneth Galinski.

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An officer shot Moreno in the head after he had fired several shots at police, said Galinski.

An Arlington Heights police officer is authorized to shoot "any time he feels his life or the life of someone else is in jeopardy," the commander said. "When a gun is pointed at you, that's deadly force."

Next-door neighbor Rich Wolchuk, a 30-year resident, said he and another longtime neighbor on the other side of the Moreno home were pleased when the family moved into the house earlier this summer and had no forewarning of Sunday's trouble.

The home had been vacant for a long time and even though the Morenos were renters, they had already fixed up the front with shrubs and made the backyard kid friendly with a small swimming pool, the neighbor said.

"They just moved in - a nice couple with a couple of kids. What a shame!" said Wolchuk.

But court records show that Moreno, who previously lived in Chicago and River Grove, had several misdemeanor arrests over the years and received probation in 2000 when he pleaded guilty to two felony counts. No record of domestic violence charges was found.

Here is Galinski's account of the event:

Officers were called to the home at 11:47 p.m. Sunday with the report of a domestic disturbance in which a 9-year-old child was injured. When officers approached the front door, they observed a man through a window inside holding a handgun.

The officers immediately retreated and took a position of cover, then called for help. Officers learned a woman later identified as Moreno's wife and their 9-year-old son had escaped to a neighbor's house where they had called police. However, their 1-year-old child still was inside the home.

Additional officers responded and set up a perimeter, as the offender was seen continuing to walk around holding the handgun. Several officers who were on scene reported hearing shots being fired from within the residence and also reported seeing muzzle flashes.

After about 15 minutes, officers positioned near the rear of the house observed Moreno appear at a side window, tell officers "I see you there," then fire shots at them.

After Moreno stopped firing, one of the officers returned a single shot.

Following the gunshot, officers maintained a perimeter around the house but no other threats were made and Moreno was not seen. The officer said he was unsure if his shot struck Moreno.

The Northern Illinois Police Alarm System Emergency Services Team was summoned. After failing to establish any type of contact, NIPAS officers were able to observe Moreno with a video camera they stuck inside the home. He was lying on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound in the head.

Police and medical officials then entered the home and transported Moreno to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge at least an hour after he was shot.

Investigators are currently monitoring Moreno's condition as the question of charges is considered.

The 9-year-old child was treated at a hospital for a cut on his head that required stitches, Galinski said. The 1-year-old was not injured.

From the mother's report, officers thought they knew where the baby was in the house, but the commander said innocent people are always a concern when police shoot into a home.

"There's always a fear where a round will go when you shoot a high-powered rifle round in a frame house," said Galinski.

But Arlington Heights' chief investigator said he had no problem with the officer shooting "because he was in fear for his life. The gun was pointed out the window at the officers."

The Arlington Heights Police Department has requested the assistance of the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit to investigate the case, which Galinski said is routine to get an unbiased report when an officer is involved in a shooting. He said this is the first time in his 27 years on the force that an Arlington Heights officer has shot someone.

Neighbors were not evacuated because the incident happened so quickly, Galinski said. The matter appeared to be over within 20 minutes of the initial call even though it took longer to positively determine that Moreno had been hit.

Wolchuk, the next door neighbor, said his only awareness of the incident in progress was a tinny-sounding gunshot around midnight which he interpreted as a firecracker.

It was sometime later - Wolchuk estimates about 2 a.m. - that a member of the NIPAS team came to his door to advise him and his family to remain in a part of the house between concrete walls until the all-clear was given.

Another neighbor around the corner said he received an automated call from the Arlington Heights Police Department about 1 a.m. advising nearby residents to stay indoors. A second call advising that the incident was over came at about 3 a.m., he said.

Wolchuk said it's the first time in his decades in the neighborhood that he's ever been aware of a need for such a strong police response. "You never would have thought about it," he said.

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