A black male in a white vehicle.
The description of the suspect wanted for the robbery of the Fifth Third Bank in Northbrook, Ill., wasn't detailed, but it was all Officer Tim Gramins had to go on.
In hopes that he might intercept the suspect, the Skokie (Ill.) PD officer responded to the area of Edens Expressway/94 southbound and Overton Road-a major interchange in the Chicago area. He parked and for several minutes monitored passing traffic until the sight of a white Pontiac Bonneville caught his eye. A check of the car's license plate indicated its registered owner lived on the South Side.
The white Bonneville with a black male driver warranted a second glance from Gramins, but it was the look on the man's face that commanded his attention. The split-second betrayal of fear melted into a calculated impassiveness that belied his being acutely aware of the trooper's ride. The expression was one that the 14-year veteran had become familiar with: The signature denial common to felons throughout the land.
Gramins wasted no time pulling in behind the Bonneville and keyed his mic to get other units rolling in his direction. But if Gramins was on to the driver's game, the Bonneville's driver, Raymond Maddox, was no less on to his and suddenly punched the accelerator, speeding off Edens Expressway and onto surface streets.
By the time Maddox turned east on Touhy Avenue, Gramins had closed the distance between them and his coordination of the pursuit was going as well as he could hope for. Then Maddox made a left turn onto Estes Avenue and things began to change for the worse.
PHOTOS: View a slideshow of the crime scene.
Maddox headed into a residential neighborhood where he made a hard right turn onto Kilpatrick with Gramins on his tail. Rounding the corner, Maddox slammed on his brakes just as Gramins was trying to broadcast the latest change in the pursuit's direction.
Caught off guard, Gramins skidded to a stop a mere 15 feet away from the Bonneville—much closer than he would have wanted. Maddox's car door flew open and his feet hit the pavement.
Throughout, Gramins had been in a reactive mode-reacting to information that he was processing based upon what was being communicated to him, first by the radio, then by the driver, a man who was himself unencumbered by the distractions of calling a pursuit or worrying about the welfare of others.
But the suddenness of Maddox's maneuver and the increasingly apparent reasons for it now registered with Gramins in the form of a surge of adrenaline and greater visual acuity.
At the sight of Maddox stepping out of the Bonneville with a Smith & Wesson 5906 9mm pistol, Gramins tossed the mic, then simultaneously unbuckled his seat belt with his left hand as he drew his .45 caliber Glock from its holster.
Maddox point-fired at Gramins as he charged toward the patrol unit. Four bullets hit the front of Gramins' squad car.
Gramins let loose with a barrage of rounds hoping that what he might lose in accuracy would be compensated for by its suppressive nature. The only thing separating Gramins and his assailant was a windshield that was fast disintegrating from ingoing and outgoing rounds.