Aurora Police Officer Pedro "Pete" Rodriguez was named Thursday as the Officer of the Year by the Kane County Chiefs of Police Association for taking quick action to stop a shooting in progress.
Rodriquez was honored with the Louis Spuhler Officer of the Year Award at banquet hosted by the Batavia Moose Lodge 682 that featured Clint Hull -- a current Kane County Judge and former prosecutor -- as speaker.
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Police said Rodriguez had just finished his shift on Jan. 7, 2011, picked up his teenage daughter from school and was driving north on Fifth Street at South Avenue when he saw a 15-year-old shooting a revolver at a group of middle school students, who were running.
Rodriguez, who was still in full uniform, told his then-13-year-old daughter to get down and confronted the shooter. The shooter refused to drop the gun and kept running toward another teen. The boy eventually pointed the gun at Rodriguez, who had no choice but to fire and kill him, according to police.
"His actions saved the lives of several others who were in immediate danger," the association said.
Rodriguez recently was named the Exchange Club of Aurora's Police Officer of the Year and in February received the Aurora department's Medal of Valor.
Also nominated were: Campton Hills Police Officer Elliot Rose; Elgin Police Detective Heather Robinson; Huntley Police Officer Brett Kinney; Kane County Forest Preserve Police Officer Rick Splittgerber; Kane County Sheriff's Deputy Ron Hain; Montgomery Police Deputy Chief Armando Sanders; North Aurora Police Officer Ryan McKiness; and St. Charles Police Officer Steve Heike.
More stern words for vigilante justice: The murder case of John W. Keyes III, a 17-year-old from Elgin who was killed in November 2009 when he was run down and rammed into a building, has been resolved.
LaCorbek Benion, 18, of Elgin, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
His mother, Timera Brach, 36, of Streamwood, was convicted of first-degree murder last year and sentenced to 34 years in prison.
The teens fought at a party and on Nov. 8, 2009, Branch ran down Keyes with her car and Benion pulled up in a separate car and taunted Keyes as he lay on the ground mortally wounded.
"This situation escalated out of control when an adult who should have been a voice of reason decided to be a participant in a dispute among teenagers. The outcome could not have been worse. A young man who was ready to begin adulthood was murdered and two families were destroyed in the pursuit of vigilante justice and a complete disregard for human life," said Kane Country State's Attorney Joe McMahon. "Adolescents will make bad decisions. It's part of growing up. Adults must help them understand why the decisions were bad. Adults should not jump in and encourage worse behavior."