A man shot to death when an off-duty police officer interrupted him during a robbery attempt at a Jefferson Park Walgreens store lived just blocks away, authorities said.
The man has been identified as Mark Garcia, 56, of the 5800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. That's less than a mile from the Walgreens at 5230 N. Milwaukee Ave. where he was shot to death about 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Police said the robber matched the description of someone who had robbed the same store on Jan. 26 and a nearby Dollar Tree store recently, as well as a Dunkin Donuts near Belmont and Austin avenues, police said.
Garcia had been arrested June 29 in the 1000 block of North Lawndale Avenue on a felony drug-possession charge but the charge was later dropped, according to police and court records.
On Monday, the off-duty officer walked into the store at 5230 N. Milwaukee Ave. around 10:30 a.m. to use the ATM machine while his wife and two children waited in the car, according to Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Patrick Camden, citing preliminary information.
The officer became suspicious when he saw a female employee "frantically" stashing money in a bag behind the counter while a large man stood in front of the register, Camden said.
"It's not an every day, common scene," he said.
The officer, who is assigned to the Near West District and has been with the department for 11 years, walked toward the man, identified himself as an officer and asked the man to get down, Camden said. The man knelt down, but said he wasn't going to be arrested and the officer would have to shoot him, according to Camden. The man then reached into his pocket as if he had a gun, he said.
According to a statement by the Chicago Police Department Office of News Affairs, there was a struggle and the officer discharged his weapon "in fear for his life."
Police recovered what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun from the scene, Camden said.
The suspect was taken in critical condition to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital after being shot in the upper body, Camden said. Garcia was pronounced dead at 1:06 p.m. at Lutheran General, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
The shooting occurred down the street from the Jefferson Park District police station.