A 20-hour police standoff ended Wednesday morning in south suburban Harvey when police stormed a home, freed four hostages and arrested two gunmen.
“It became clear we needed to enter the house,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.Concerned about the lack of progress in negotiations, police stormed the home about 9 a.m. and found the hostages and gunmen in a second-story bedroom. The men “didn't surrender” but were arrested without a shot being fired, Dart said shortly after the standoff ended.
Dart said police entered the home through the front door after an armored car knocked it down.
The hostages — two women and two girls, ages 6 and 12, were taken to the hospital to be checked out, Dart said. Dart added one of the women in the home was a nurse.
"There was numerous threats made to the children to kill them," said Dart.
Thornton High School will remain open, Eaves said, but students who live in the area near the standoff will not be required to attend.
“We don't want students coming outside, standing on their bus routes,” Eaves said.
An alternate bus route along 150th Street was provided for students who would ordinarily be picked up along Sibley in the affected area, Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg said Wednesday morning. Students will be picked up at 150th and Dixie Highway.The standoff began about 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, when police responding to a burglary in progress call in the 14700 block of South Seeley Avenue exchanged gunfire with two men.
One officer was hit in the arm, and the bullet broke a bone; the other suffered a graze wound.
The gunmen ran into a nearby home, apparently chosen at random, where they took a total of eight hostages — four boys, two girls and two adult females, Dart said.
One neighbor said he saw officers toss a phone on the front stoop on Tuesday and a child with a rope tied around his waist briefly step outside to retrieve it.
Outside the home, a military presence took shape as officers from more than 20 law enforcement agencies gathered, some in fatigues and body armor and carrying assault-style weapons. An armored vehicle patrolled nearby alleys.
Hostage negotiations were conducted by the Illinois State Police and Dart's office. They had some success.
Over the course of several hours on Tuesday evening, a woman brought out four children, one by one: two 1-year-old boys, a 2-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy. The children were taken to a local hospital for observation.
Jean Johnson, who lives down the street, said one of the hostages, a small boy, at first turned around and started knocking on the door to be let back in. “He didn't understand,” she said.
Another boy, who was older, ran out with his hands up, his body going limp when he reached the SWAT team, she said.
Throughout the night, police negotiators shined lights on the house, sounded sirens and used a bullhorn to encourage the men to surrender.
Dart said negotiators tried “tried everything conceivable to get them to understand that we weren't going away.”
By Tuesday morning, it was clear that police needed to take action. Things were getting “dicey,” Dart said. “Things were just not moving at all, and that always worries people.”
Dart noted that the two men were uncooperative until the end. “They didn't surrender themselves,” he said.
Authorities initially thought only two people were being held hostage. But throughout the day, that number was revised upward. The men who took the hostages were not forthcoming with hostage negotiators, Harvey spokesman Sean Howard said.
“These numbers change when you depend on criminals to give you information,” he said. “As these victims have come out, an 11-year-old [released hostage] was able to articulate what was going on at the scene.”
Officials identified the most severely wounded Harvey Police Officer as Darnell Keel, an 18-year veteran of the force, who heads up the department's sexual assault unit.
“He's doing fine and in good spirits, and he said he wished he could get back out there and help his teammates,” Howard said Tuesday. “He's a man of faith thanking God that it was just his arm and not something else.” Keel was hospitalized.
Keel's arm was broken by a gunman's bullet, but he was treated at Christ Hospital and released.
“Thank God that our officer is not injured more seriously than he was,” Harvey Police Chief Denard Eaves said. “Our main concern right now is the individuals inside the home. That's what were focusing on right now: their safety.”
Officers from nearby Phoenix arrived on the scene shortly after Keel was wounded and dragged him to safety, Howard said.
Corey Campbell, who lives nearby, said he was just waking up when he heard gunfire.
“I woke up and heard about six shots, tires screeching, and I just heard some yelling,” Campbell said. “Next thing I know, we come out and see police everywhere.”The other wounded officer, who suffered a graze wound, was treated at the scene.
A neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, saw the hostages being led by police out of the home."Those ladies were hysterical. One of them was hysterical, the kids just looked really scared and stuff, traumatized," the neighbor said.
The remaining children were taken to Ingalls Memorial Hospital where they were checked out and released.
Neighbors were allowed back in their homes about an hour after the hostages were released."It was kind of hectic, you're not comfortable with where you was at. Other than that just had to wait it out like everybody else," said neighbor Gary Peoples.
Neighbors feared for the children in the home when they saw the heavy police presence outside of the home.
"I'm like I hope they don't shoot up in that house because I knew there were babies in that house. That was my main concern," a neighbor added.
FOX 32's Lisa Chavarria contributed to this report.