It's been 96 hours since I heard the call go out over our radios and listened to the incident unfold. I was on my way to the scene when I listened to the first officer advise he'd been shot. And then the next one. And then everything went dark around the edges.
Every time an officer was hit, another went in. No one retreated. They forged ahead with shields and weapons as true warriors do and no one backed down until the threat was eliminated. We learned right away that there were casualties and I can't tell you how hard it was to hear that we were too late to save them. Every officer will carry that heaviness with them. It becomes a part of them now.
Every on-duty Aurora police officer showed up at the scene ready to go in and fight. Off-duty officers came to battle. As we were coordinating operations, I looked around and saw hundreds of uniforms from all over the state standing at the ready. I lost count of how many agency heads walked up to me and said, "We have a team here. Tell us what you need."
This is a familiar feeling to me. The law enforcement family has strong bonds, and it was no surprise to me that they all showed up. But I was still overwhelmed by it.
Our Special Response Team leaders coordinated SWAT teams from other agencies. Our brothers and sisters from the Aurora Fire Department staged their medics and swooped in as needed. Ambulances from other jurisdictions waited in line to do the same.
As the shooter was still at large in the building, teams were sent in for dual missions: to locate and stop the shooter and to find and rescue victims. Our Rescue Task Force (RTF) training with APD and AFD in the months earlier prepared the team of medics and police officers who forged into the building. Our tactical officers were well equipped to cover vast space within the structure. It was like a giant game of hide and seek – except for the person hiding was trying to kill them.
When they finally found him in the rear of the building, shots rang out again, and those of us on the outside held our breaths until we would hear confirmation that the shooter was down.
This is just a part of a statement put out today by Aurora, Illinois police chief Kristin Ziman.