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‘Is this for real?’ Guard kills man trying to rob armored truck

The amazing move two armored truck guards pulled Friday morning to foil a robbery in Humboldt Park sounds like it was ripped from a Hollywood script.

The results: The guards survived. One suspect was killed and another critically wounded — shot in the eye.

One of the guards from Garda armored cars had just made a pick-up at the Family Dollar store, 3401 W. Chicago. He was walking back to his truck, parked in front, when the two armed men approached at about 9:45 a.m., police said.

One man walked up to the guard, put an apparent sawed-off shotgun under his chin, and said, “Don’t move.” Another man approached from the rear, put the guard in a chokehold and stuck a small revolver in his back, said Chicago Police Commander Anthony Riccio.

“Then the guard hears the guy from behind say, ‘Kill him.’ So, afraid he’s going to get killed, the guard grabs his own gun and shoots the guy in front of him with the sawed off shotgun fatally in the head,” said Riccio.

Meanwhile, the guard’s partner got out of the truck and took a position by the front fender, Riccio said.

“The guard who was still in a chokehold sees his partner and immediately drops to the ground like dead weight, leaving the man with the revolver exposed,” Riccio said.

The second guard fired multiple times, hitting the man in the eye and leg, Riccio said.

The dead man was identified as Jimmy Townsend, 52, of the 5400 block of West Quincy. The other man, age 49, was taken in critical condition to Mount Sinai Hospital, but was speaking to doctors. He had not been charged as of Friday evening.

The guards were “shaken up,” but not injured.

“They were longtime partners,” said Riccio. “I don’t know if that ‘drop down’ move is something they practiced or rehearsed — but the timing couldn’t have been better,” Riccio said. “The guard told us: ‘I threw my legs up and my butt down and fell to the ground.’ ”

The robbery took place on a busy street, one block form a crowded strip mall.

“It was a pretty brazen,” Riccio said. “What they did was courageous and absolutely the right thing.”

“And this all happened underneath a police camera,” Riccio said. “But it was actually watching a drug deal go down a little further west on Chicago Avenue. Once the officers monitoring the camera heard this was happening, they zoomed in.”

What the camera saw was the escape attempt of the man who was shot in the eye as he stumbled and crawled down the sidewalk. He only made it a few feet.

Another shock to investigators: “The shotgun was fake,” Riccio said. “It was two pipes taped together with electrical tape. I saw it. It looked very good. But the revolver was real.”

Tennille Simmons, a hair stylist at a nearby salon, said one robber was wearing a tan-hooded coat and jeans. The other wore a camouflage jacket and pants.

Simmons hit the deck when she heard shots and rushed out moments later to see what happened.

“I was like, ‘Is this for real? Is this a movie?’ ” she said.

Simmons said the same Family Dollar store was robbed last fall, and a security camera image of the suspect still hangs inside the store.

A few hours after the botched heist, firefighters used a hose to wash down the blood-splattered sidewalk while folks from the neighborhood huddled in the cold outside police tape and talked about the robbery.

“It’s a quiet corner most of the time, other than the regular drug and gang activity,” said a worker at a nearby shop.

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