Chicago police: Des Plaines cop likely shot 15-year-old during pursuit of robber

  • Christopher Terrell Willis

    Christopher Terrell Willis

 
 
Updated 11/20/2019 10:46 PM

Chicago police said Wednesday the 15-year-old music school intern wounded Tuesday night after their gunbattle with a bank robbery suspect was likely shot by a Des Plaines police officer.

But Chicago police brass also defended the officer's actions. He and other Des Plaines cops had been pursuing 32-year-old Christopher Terrell Willis after an armed robbery and carjacking, and Willis later shot a Chicago officer in the head, they said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They have every right to be there and pursue him and to take him into custody," Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said Wednesday. "And, certainly, when he started firing at police officers, they had every right to return fire. ... There's no question in my mind that the Des Plaines officer acted properly."

The Des Plaines officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, officials said.

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, Riccio said the investigation shows Willis entered the UpBeat Music and Arts school on Irving Park Road in Chicago and pointed his gun at the Des Plaines officer who had chased him. The officer then fired his gun, Riccio said.

"Unfortunately, one of those rounds struck this 15-year-old," Riccio said.

An autopsy performed by the Cook County medical examiner's office showed Willis, who lived in Chicago, died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Des Plaines police on Wednesday detailed how the gunbattle that ended with Willis' death originated with the bank robbery and carjacking.

Officers responded about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to an armed robbery at the Bank of America branch at Oakton Street and Mannheim Road, authorities confirmed in a news release.

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Police said a masked man pointed a handgun at a teller and demanded money be put in a bag and given to him. The teller complied but also included a GPS tracking device that could be monitored by authorities.

Police said Willis got into a getaway car driven by an accomplice. With the help of witnesses, officers soon spotted the vehicle in an alley a few blocks away near the 1900 block of Ash Street, they said.

After the duo got out of the car and ran, officers apprehended the driver but Willis escaped. Police said they brought in police dogs to search for Willis during the next two hours.

About 6:45 p.m., Willis held a resident at gunpoint on the 1900 block of Pine Street, demanded her car keys and fled in her Buick sedan, authorities said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Officers spotted the car, leading to a high-speed chase on the eastbound Kennedy Expressway until Willis exited at Irving Park Road. There, Chicago and Illinois State Police were waiting for him.

When he was stopped near Irving Park Road and Lowell Avenue, he exchanged gunfire with officers. One of his shots struck a 46-year-old Chicago police officer in the head, authorities said.

The Des Plaines officer then chased Willis into the music school, where he was fatally shot by the officer, police said.

The 15-year-old boy who is a student intern at the shop was struck in the arm and abdomen during the crossfire. He was reported to be in critical condition but stable Wednesday.

The Chicago police officer was in serious condition but stable, and made a marked improvement overnight, Riccio said.

He said he's optimistic both will make full recoveries.

Potential charges against the accomplice in the bank robbery haven't been announced.

• ABC 7 Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report.

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