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Man Dies After Shooting Himself With Shotgun While ‘Showing It Off’

By Rosemary Regina Sobol, Chicago Tribune

A 31-year-old Evanston, Ill., man is dead after he accidentally shot himself with his shotgun while “showing it off” with friends Sunday night, authorities said.

Eric Zyzanski was pronounced dead at 11:35 p.m. at Evanston Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Police responded to an apartment at 9:45 p.m. for a person who had shot himself, according to a written statement from Evanston police.

A resident in the apartment ran to a neighbor’s home to call the police and when officers got there, they found the 31-year-old on the floor with a shotgun wound to his head, and a shotgun lying beside him, the statement said.

Police learned the victim was with several friends when he retrieved his gun and began showing it off, the statement said. His friends became alarmed and told him to put it away but he removed two to three rounds, held the gun to his cheek, and told his friends it was empty before he pulled the trigger, the statement said.

Evanston Police Department Cmdr. Diane Davis said Zyzanski was the legal owner of the gun and that no foul play is suspected.

Detectives interviewed the friends who were in the apartment and all of them gave consistent accounts of what had happened, according to the statement. Evidence technicians processed the scene and the body and the evidence corroborated the witnesses’ accounts.

Photo: Rob Bixby via Flickr

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Man Trapped In Cook County Jail Visiting Room For 31 Hours

By Rosemary Regina Sobol, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A man who came to visit his son was accidentally trapped inside an empty maximum security visiting area of Cook County Jail for about 30 hours over the weekend, authorities said on Tuesday.

He was rescued when he broke a sprinkler head, alerting Chicago Fire Department firefighters who found him about 1 a.m. Monday, said Cara Smith, the jail’s executive director.

“We’re tremendously sorry for what this man went through,” Smith said.

His ordeal started Saturday about 6 p.m. when he was on his way to his weekly visit with his son, who is in sheriff’s custody awaiting a trial on a drug case. His son, who has been there for about 13 months, had been moved to a different area, a tier for “workers” that the man wasn’t familiar with.

“He was told to proceed ahead and stay to the right to go to the visitor area,” Smith said. “He encountered a door that was propped open and he went in and the door shut behind him.”

He was locked in the room, where people visit the “highest classification,” super-maximum security prisoners for 31 hours.

“There’s no reason to check on that room because it’s not used on the weekends,” Smith said. He was pounding on the concrete door but no one could hear him, she said. No prisoners were in the room or anywhere near him.

The room is a visiting area that contractors were working on, installing cameras, “incredibly, for better security,” Smith said.

The room contains three stools, and three glass partitions separating visitors from the prisoners.

“Brilliantly, he broke the sprinkler head off which alerted the fire department so they were able to identify where it was coming from and they went in and found him,” Smith said.

“He was incredibly, obviously, relieved and couldn’t have been more gracious,” when they found him after about 30 hours, she said.

The man, who is middle-aged, had to have a “couple of stitches” on one of his thumbs from breaking the sprinkler and was taken to Rush University Medical Center. Smith said she met with the man early Monday about 3 a.m. and he was taken back to the jail after he was treated to pick up his car, she said.

“Anything like this is unacceptable,” she said. “We are very grateful that he is OK,” she said.

“We’re been looking at how and why and what went wrong,” Smith said. “Multiple things obviously failed including a contractor leaving a door open while they did work in our jail. It was a perfect storm of circumstances that led to this horrible incident.”

Photo: Adam Jones via Wikimedia commons

Charges Filed In Beating, Robbery Of Elderly Chicago Priest

By Rosemary Regina Sobol, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Charges were filed against a parolee who is accused of beating and robbing an elderly priest at his South Side Chicago Catholic church in 2011.

Jerrell Harris, 21, was charged with aggravated battery, home invasion, and robbery, police said.

Harris was picked up Thursday as he was paroled from Pinkneyville Correctional Center on a separate case.

Harris admitted to taking part in the armed robbery and aggravated battery of the Daniel Mallette on Dec. 6, 2011 at the rectory of St. Margaret of Scotland Church, according to a police report.

Police are still seeking a second attacker.

“Enough already,” said the now-retired Mallette who was reached by phone Friday morning, referring to violence, in general.

“I don’t have anything to say at this time,” he added, saying it was the first he had heard of the arrest.

Mallette had battled violence and poverty from his South Side Catholic church for decades when he became a victim of violence when two masked men broke into the church rectory and beat and robbed him, authorities said at the time.

The robbers, dressed in black like “ninjas,” entered the Mallette’s upstairs bedroom at the rectory of St. Margaret of Scotland Church at about 12:30 a.m. that day and woke him up, police said at the time.

They dragged him out of bed and forced him to his knees and demanded to know “where the money was,” according to a police report.

Mallette, who was 80 at the time of the attack, said there was no money, and the robbers started hitting him in the face and body with a blunt instrument, police said. He fell to the ground and they began kicking him a “couple of times,” according to the report.

The priest finally told them there was a safe in the basement. The robbers forced him to the basement, but Mallette couldn’t get into the safe because the keys didn’t work, police said. He then told the robber there was another safe in his bedroom closet with a combination that he knew.

The robbers took $600 from it and fled the rectory, police said.

Mallette, who was pastor emeritus at the 83-year-old church, suffered broken ribs and a swollen face, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a close friend of the priest, said at the time.

Photo: Sully Pixel via Flickr

1 Dead, 1 In Custody Following Shooting At Purdue University

By Rosemary Regina Sobol, Chicago Tribune

A man is dead and another person is in custody following a shooting on the campus of Purdue University in West LaFayette, Indiana, according to school officials.

The gunman walked into a basement classroom of the Electrical Engineering building around noon while a class was going on, school and law enforcement officials told a news conference.

“The suspect came into the building, walked to the classroom, shot the individual and walked out,” said school spokesman Greg McClure. He then walked outside and surrendered to police.

“The suspect was apprehended on the east side of the Electrical Engineering building just outside the building,” McClure said.

He said police believe the shooter was targeting the man he shot and “there was no effort to target anyone else.”

“Nobody else was wounded or hit by gunfire, it was just the person who was killed,” McClure said.

Police said there was no argument or fight before the shooting. McClure would not say if the victim was a teacher.

As of 1:30 p.m., police were still searching the building as a precaution but believed there was no threat to anyone else on the campus.

Students were initially told to stay in place until the building was cleared and the area fully searched. Around 12:45 p.m., other campus buildings were opened and the “shelter in place order” was lifted, the school tweeted.

A few minutes later, the school tweeted an all-clear. “No ongoing threat to campus. Resume normal operations. (Electrical Engineering) will remain closed.”

Erica Ambrose, a senior in the School of Agriculture, told the school’s newspaper that she was in class in the Electrical Engineering building when she “heard shouting downstairs and it sounded like people were running through the hallways, just yelling at each other.”

“We heard the sirens and we looked out the window to see they had somebody in handcuffs,” Ambrose told the Purdue Exponent. “Then, the fire alarms went on to evacuate so we came outside. When we got out, that’s when we got the text to avoid the area.

“We didn’t actually hear the gunshot,” she said. “We just heard yelling.”

Photo: Scholewiak via Flickr