Man charged in shooting of Illinois State Police officer in Wheeling
Residents of the Wheeling neighborhood where an Illinois State Police officer was shot Thursday night described the police activity and violence as scary and disturbing.
Armed officers wearing camouflage uniforms surrounded the front of a townhouse on the 400 block of Hickory Drive. Some took up positions behind nearby trees, aiming sniper rifles with laser sights at the home, a witness said.
At one point, police used a truck with a battering ram to smash holes in the front of the townhouse.
"It was like a movie in front of your house," neighbor Juan Bernal said. "It was real business."
Late Friday, state police arrested Volodymyr Dragan on felony charges of aggravated battery with a firearm to a police officer, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated assault of a police officer and attempted murder.
Dragan is in custody pending a bond hearing at the First District Cook County Courthouse on Saturday.
The trooper was shot at 6:30 p.m. Thursday as state police were executing an arrest/search warrant for Dragan at his residence. Shots were fired from inside the home, state police said. Dragan surrendered and was taken into custody during the execution of the warrant.
Police said the warrant was related to charges of forcible detention, aggravated assault to a police officer and aggravated unlawful restraint stemming from a traffic stop on the Tri-State Tollway near Glenview about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.
"I'm proud of the performance, professionalism and restraint, all Illinois State Police officers displayed during the apprehension of this suspect. Due to the efforts of the men and women of the ISP, this suspect can now be brought to justice," said Brendan F. Kelly, acting director of the state police. "Our thoughts remain with the injured officer who is recovering at home with his family."
Neighbor Bernal was leaving his townhouse with his family when he saw police throughout the neighborhood. The family went back inside, and Bernal watched the action from a second-floor window.
Using a police car's loudspeaker, officers repeatedly demanded that Dragan surrender, Bernal said.
When Dragan refused to come outside, officers demolished the front door, front windows and garage door with the battering ram.
Neighbor Don Roth was sitting down to eat dinner and watch the Cubs game on TV when he saw the police activity outside.
He initially thought it might be a drill but wondered why village officials hadn't notified him or his neighbors. Then he heard an officer demand the suspect surrender.
And then the truck with the battering ram hit the front of the Dragan's townhouse.
"I was just in shock as it was happening," Roth said. "You don't expect to see it."
Eventually, a man walked out with his hands on his head and was arrested, witnesses said.
Police ordered some residents to leave their homes and the neighborhood during the confrontation. Officers also blockaded the neighborhood, preventing anyone from entering for hours.
Christine Valles had been away from home when the shooting occurred and wasn't allowed to return until about 10 p.m. Even then, she had to duck under police tape to get to her house and explain to an officer why she was there.
Bernal and his family live a few houses away from where the violence occurred. He said he doesn't know the man who lives there.
"You never know who you have next door," Bernal said. "It's scary."
Daily Herald reporter Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.