Officer Thomas Wortham IV Chicago Police Department

POThomas_Wortham175 chicagopolice

End of Watch: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: 30
Tour of Duty: 3 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: Shot and killed

Officer Thomas Wortham was shot and killed after identifying himself when four suspects attempted to rob him while he was off duty at 11:25 pm.

Officer Wortham was visiting his father’s home to show him pictures from the previous week’s Police Week activities that he attended in Washington, DC. As he was leaving, four men approached him and attempted to rob him of his motorcycle. Officer Wortham drew his service weapon and fired at the suspects, but was fatally shot.

His father, a retired Chicago police officer, witnessed the shooting from his window. He exited the house exchanged shots with the suspects, killing one and seriously wounding another. The remaining two suspects fled in a vehicle, but were taken into custody the following day.

Officer Wortham was a military veteran who had recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. He had served with the Chicago Police Department for three years.

Agency Contact Information
Chicago Police Department
3510 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653

Phone: (312) 746-6000

Please contact the Chicago Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

One suspect wanted in the murder of an off-duty Chicago police officer has turned himself in but police continue to search for another suspect.

Police Supt. Jody Weis made that announcement in an official statement just released on the death of Officer Thomas Wortham IV.

In all, there were four men involved in the shooting death of Wortham. Besides the two who fled the scene, one man was killed during the robbery attempt and another was critically injured.

Wortham was leaving his parents home in the 8400 block of South King Drive at 11:30 last night when the four men approached him as he got ready to leave on his new motorcycle.

As they attempted to rob him, Wortham was able to pull his weapon and fire but he was shot. His father heard the gunfire and grabbed his own weapon and also fired at the suspects. Two suspects got away, but 20-year-old Brian Floyd was hit and died at the scene. Another suspect was critically injured and remains hospitalized at Christ hospital, the same hospital where Wortham was pronounced dead a half hour after the shooting.

Police say tonight they are still investigating whether the suspects were hit by Wortham’s gun or his father’s.   Earlier reports indicated the father shot both men.

“Officer Wortham joined the Chicago Police Department in June 2007 and served with distinction in the Englewood District, “Weis said in his statement. “Officer Wortham was not only a hero to his community and our city; he also served with distinction as a First Lieutenant in the Army National Guard.  He most recently completed a tour in Iraq on March 30, 2010.”

Weis expressed the condolences of the entire department to the Wortham family and said, “Officer Wortham was a true guardian to those he served and an inspiration to his friends and colleagues.”

Wortham was 30-years-old and a 3-year veteran of the department. He was assigned to the 7th Police District in Englewood. He was single with no children,

The Tribune recently interview Wortham in an article about a spike in violence near Cole Park, which borders the Wortham family home.

Wortham was president of the Cole Park Advisory Council. In response to two recent shootings at the park he told the Tribune, “When people think of the South Side of Chicago, they think violence. In Chatham, that’s not what we see. It’s happened, and we’re going to fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Funeral arrangements for Officer Wortham have not been set.

Yes, he survived Iraq but not Chicago.

Every murder in our community is cause for grief. But when a cop is killed, on duty or off, we should pause out of respect. It’s good to learn about the fallen officer from family, friends and colleagues.

In this case, we know a great deal. We know what mattered to Wortham. The safety of his community mattered to Wortham. He told us so.

Just last week, he talked to Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney about a recent rash of shootings and robberies that had forced officials to take down Cole Park’s basketball hoops. As president of the Cole Park advisory council, Wortham was leading an effort to combat the violence, to take back the park from the gangs and thugs.

“It’s starting to feel like it’s expected in this community,” he said. “When people think of the South Side of Chicago, they think violence. In Chatham, that’s not what we see. It’s happened, and we’re going to fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Those courageous words now haunt us.

The numbers say that homicide has ticked up in Chicago this year, although it is still far lower than it was as recently as 2002, when 648 people died.

But that’s not how it feels in Chicago, particularly in neighborhoods such as Chatham, which traditionally have been relatively safe. We hear from people in Chatham and other neighborhoods that they’re scared. That violence is rising. And that the police are stretched thin.

But this isn’t about statistics or homicide-fighting strategies. It’s about a young Chicago cop and a crime that shakes us all.

Even if you don’t live in Chatham, it’s going to be harder tonight and tomorrow night and next week to convince yourself that your neighborhood is insulated from violence. Because it isn’t.

Wortham’s death isn’t borne by his family alone. Or the Chicago Police Department. Or the Chatham neighborhood, where his grandfather built a home 50 years ago.

His death is the city’s loss.

Our loss.

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