A special agent on a recently created anti-gun task force in Chicago was critically wounded by a gunshot during an early-morning operation in Chicago on Friday.
The agent, whom officials did not identify beyond his employment with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was shot in the face during what officials described as an ambush in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, an area southwest of downtown where four officers have been shot in the past year.
He was working on an operation with a task force that was created last year to coordinate efforts between federal agents from ATF and the FBI, Illinois state police officers, and the Chicago Police Department in an effort to tamp down on the city’s high levels of gun violence, which is a regular focus of President Trump’s speeches.
At an afternoon news conference Friday, officials declined to answer questions about the nature of the task force’s work in the area. They said that they expected the agent, who was listed in stable condition, to make a full recovery, urged the community to help them find the person or people involved in the shooting, and vowed to conduct a manhunt.
“We will find you,” said Eddie Johnson, the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. “We will knock on every door, talk to every witness, watch every piece of video and analyze every piece of evidence. Believe me, you will not get away with this.”
A reward of $61,000 has been offered for information about the suspect.
“We can’t do this alone as law enforcement,” said Celinez Nunez, the special agent in charge of ATF’s Chicago field division. “We need the community’s help to be able to bring these people to justice.”
Nunez said the agent was new to Chicago.
The high-profile Crime Gun Strike Force, whose creation was touted by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was formed as Chicago struggled with gun violence. Trump has frequently invoked the city’s violent crime in public remarks, calling it an “epidemic” and saying that the city is suffering “horrible carnage.”
In his remarks at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday, Trump mentioned Chicago’s gun laws, seemingly as an argument against them, saying they were the “toughest” in the country. Fact-checking organizations have determined that assertion to be false.
“We all know what’s going on in Chicago,” Trump said.
But local officials have blamed the bloodshed on the presence of gangs and the flow of illegal guns into the city. Between 2013 and 2016, most illegal guns recovered in Chicago had come from outside of the state, typically places with “weaker or lax gun laws,” the city said in a report last year.
The task force was created to focus on areas of Chicago with the highest concentration of gun violence. The Back of the Yards area has seen some of the more extreme instances of gun use in the city in recent years. A period of nine months in 2016 and 2017 analyzed by the Chicago Tribune saw at least 33 incidents that involved semiautomatic weapons in the sector as well as the neighboring Brighton Park neighborhood. And there have been nearly 200 shootings and dozens of killings by gang members with rifles in the past year, according to ABC.
Neighbors near the shooting Friday told the Tribune that they awoke to the sound of gunfire.
“We just heard a lot of shots,” one woman told the newspaper.