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updated: 6/22/2012 10:36 AM

Elgin man eluded police in state park after chase, authorities say

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  • Eric Galarza, right facing, is hugged by a well-wisher following the funeral for his 5-year-old son Eric Jr., who was killed on Oct. 7. Police say he threatened to kill his wife Thursday and managed to escape authorities by fleeing into a state park near Wayne.

       Eric Galarza, right facing, is hugged by a well-wisher following the funeral for his 5-year-old son Eric Jr., who was killed on Oct. 7. Police say he threatened to kill his wife Thursday and managed to escape authorities by fleeing into a state park near Wayne.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


An Elgin man was able to elude police during a chase from a St. Charles business late Thursday afternoon and remain undetected after ditching his vehicle and fleeing into a state park on foot, police said.

Wayne police were positioned near the business where the wife of Eric M. Galarza worked and were set to arrest the man on aggravated domestic battery charges when he arrived to pick her up, officials said.

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Galarza's wife had contacted police shortly after he dropped her off Thursday morning because her husband struck her in the head several times during the ride in and choked her, police said. After striking his wife, Galarza then pulled out a firearm and pointed it at her head, said Wayne police Sgt. Tom Read.

Galarza told his wife he would kill her if she went to the police about the battery, Read said.

The 31-year-old Elgin man has a lengthy criminal record and was the intended target of a gang-related shooting that killed his 5-year-old son, Eric Galarza Jr., on Oct. 7 in the driveway of his home.

When Galarza pulled up to his wife's place of work near the intersection of Route 64 and Smith Road about 4 p.m. Thursday, police attempted to surround the vehicle but he escaped, Read said.

"The intent was to slide in there and surround his car so he couldn't make aggressive moves," Read said. "He smelled a rat."

Galarza lead police on a roughly five-mile pursuit until his vehicle broke down on Stearns Road east of Dunham Road, according to police.

From there, he took off on foot northeast of the intersection into the rough terrain of James "Pate" Philip State Park, police said. Police dogs were on the scene quickly as officers set up a perimeter around the area, but even with the help of a search helicopter officers were unable to locate Galarza, Read said.

Officers working with canine units reported ravines and thick brush and struggled through "nasty" terrain, Read said.

Although Galarza is considered armed and dangerous, the search was called off sometime around 7 p.m. due to tiring dogs and the rough and vast terrain, according to police.

Police searched Galarza's abandoned vehicle and were unable to find the handgun.

"We presumed he had it on him," Read said.

Wayne police contacted Elgin police, who were on the lookout for Galarza Thursday night.

"We are aware of it and assisting in the search," said Elgin police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault.

Kane County sheriff's deputies assisted in the search along with officers from neighboring departments including South Elgin.

Wayne police have notified authorities in the communities surrounding the state park to be on alert but will not keep a perimeter throughout the night due to the size of the park.

Police said Galarza's wife showed obvious signs of the battery but did not seek medical attention for her injuries.

The Kane County state's attorney's office approved two counts of aggravated domestic battery against Galarza, according to police.

Galarza's criminal history dates back to 2000, when he pleaded guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm and was sentenced to nine years in jail, according to court records. In 2004 he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and was sentenced to three years in jail, and in 2008 he was sentenced to 10 days in jail for resisting a police officer.

On Oct. 7, Galarza was in the passenger's seat of a vehicle in his driveway on the 900 block of Elma Avenue with his wife, her sister and his three children when a gunman opened fire on the car. Police said the shooting specifically targeted Galarza.

Eric M. Galarza Jr. was shot in the head and died later that night at Sherman Hospital.

A 27-year-old Aurora man who police say is a known gang member has been charged in with first-degree murder in connection to the shooting. Prosecutors said he made a request for protective custody because he feared for his life in the county jail based on the association between himself and Galarza Sr.

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