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Englewood police commander helps nab shooter

Seventh District Police Cmdr. Leo Schmitz helped corner shooting suspect Thursday Englewood.  |  Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Seventh District Police Cmdr. Leo Schmitz helped corner a shooting suspect Thursday in Englewood. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 8, 2013 6:33AM

Englewood residents thought an episode of “Cops” was being filmed Thursday afternoon as a TV news crew shadowed police after a shooting and foot chase.

Englewood District Police Cmdr. Leo Schmitz was on a “ride-along” with a CBS news crew in an unmarked squad car when shots rang out near 65th and Sangamon about 4 p.m.

A man got out of his SUV and began frantically pointing down the block and yelling, “He’s shooting at me!” Schmitz said.

Moments later, another man bolted from a gangway. Schmitz and three other officers tailed the man into a nearby garage, where Schmitz, gun drawn, found him hiding behind a car. His fellow officers arrested the man without a struggle. Charges are pending against the man, who admitted being in a gang.

Police found a 9mm Baretta handgun in a backyard as they backtracked the man’s steps.

o“It had just been fired, it smelled like gun powder,” said Schmitz, a hands-on commander who took over the districn t Jan. 13 after serving as commander of a citywide gang enforcement unit.

Confused residents asked if an episode of “Cops” was being filmed.

“We were in the right place at the right time,” said Schmitz, who credited Officers Patrick Gilmore, Richard Schmidt and Sgt. Patrick Boyle with making the arrest.

“I’m real proud of these guys, they’re doing all the work,” he said.

Though Schmitz deflected accolades, his accomplishments are clear. Violent crime has fallen during his short tenure compared with the same period last year, most pointedly in homicides, which fell from 54 to 33.

High-ranking commanders don’t make street arrests very often, but it happens.

Al Wysinger, now the department’s No. 2 officer, was commander of the Austin District five years ago when he saw a shooting while sitting on the front porch at his grandmother’s West Side birthday party. Wysinger gave chase, traded gunfire and apprehended the man.

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