A special education teacher was killed in the crossfire of a Chicago expressway shootout Tuesday evening as gun crime in the city continues to soar.
Denise M. Huguelet, 67, was shot at around 10pm on the city's Dan Ryan Expressway, while she and her husband were on their way home from a White Sox game.
The mother of five and grandmother of 11 was later pronounced dead at a hospital from a gunshot wound to the back.
Her death came as shootings in the city have increased 12 percent this year, with 2198 reported as of August 17 compared to 1968 during the same period last year, according to city crime statistics.
On Wednesday a seven-year-old boy was shot in the stomach while sitting with his mother in a parked vehicle at 8.20pm Wednesday in the Chicago's East Ukrainian Village, Chicago police reported.
He was listed as in stable condition.
Meanwhile Mayor Lori Lightfoot has remained largely silent on the latest shootings.
Denise Huguelet with her Husband Michael. She was shot and killed after getting caught in the crossfire of a shootout on a Chicago expressway Tuesday evening while the two were on their way back from a White Sox game
The mayor tweeted a tribute to killed Chicago Police officer Ella French on Thursday morning, shortly before her funeral. French was shot and killed in the line of duty last Saturday during a routine traffic stop.
Huguelet's was the was the 156th such shooting to take place on Chicago's expressways this year, outstripping last year's total of 128 in the same period, and tripling the 52 reported in 2019, according to the Chicago-Sun Times.
There have been 50 shootings this year on the Dan Ryan Expressway alone.
An Illinois State trooper on Tuesday evening had reportedly heard the gunshots from the expressway and pursued one of the vehicles believed to have been involved in the shootout.
After a chase involving a police helicopter, two suspects in the vehicle were apprehended along with a handgun.
Another car was hit in the shootout as well, and the passenger suffered a graze wound, according to police.
No charges had been filed as of Wednesday evening, the Chicago-Sun Times reported.
Huguelet's husband, Michael, had just announced on August 7 the couple's 44th wedding anniversary, as well as the birth of their 11th grandchild and 6th granddaughter.
Huguelet had worked as a special education teacher in the Evergreen Park School District for 24 years
The Huguelets had just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary and the birth of their 11th grandchild
Lightfoot's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Huguelet had worked as a special education teacher for 24 years at Central Middle School, according to a statement from the Evergreen Park Elementary School District.
Former student Walter Melancon, 22, said she had made a big impact on his life.
'Growing up I had anger issues. I had trouble focusing and she changed that for me. She helped me get through all that,' Melancon told WGN9.
'She was like everyone’s mom. You didn’t have your lunch, she made sure you eat lunch. You need help, she made sure you got help. You were sad, she didn’t let you go home ’till you were in a better mood.'
Her death came as gun crime has continued to spike in Chicago, increasing 12 percent over the same period last year
Meanwhile Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has remained silent on the latest shooting incidents, only just tweeting Thursday morning on the death of slain Chicago police officer Ella French
'Our Evergreen Park family mourns the loss of Denise Huguelet. Mrs. Huguelet worked in the district for 24 years as a special education teacher at Central Middle School, serving students with the most significant disabilities. Her passion for students and her dedication to the community showed in all aspects of her work,' the district announced in a Facebook post.
'Mrs. Huguelet’s nature with kids was kind, yet firm, to ensure that students were taught the independent skills they needed to be successful in their futures.'
The White Sox, also released a statement following Huguelet's killing.
'She dedicated her career to making a difference in the lives of so many young students,' the team said.
'The entire White Sox organization is deeply pained by the news of her passing and the loss of her warm, caring spirit that her friends, family and community remember well about Denise.'
Meanwhile the father of the Chicago cop shot alongside French on August 7, ripped the Lightfoot's police reforms that prohibit cops from drawing their weapons unless absolutely needing to for his son's paralysis and Ella French's death.
Yanez Sr. spoke during Ella French's wake on August 18 and said people in attendance 'will never forget Ella or the other officers who came before her or my son. But the people will because they don't feel the pain we feel'
'I love you all', Yanez says. 'To my son CJ and my wife Brenda, I do this all for you', he adds before blowing air kisses towards the camera
During the incident, two brothers allegedly opened fired, killing French and seriously wounding partner Carlos Yanez Jr., who is paralyzed with two bullets still lodged in his brain.
Carlos Yanez Sr., a retired Chicago cop, told The Chicago-Sun Times, 'There wasn't a day that I didn't draw my weapon, have it behind my leg or behind my thigh.'
'She wants police to fight crime with a hand tied behind their backs, and you can't fight evil crime, brute force, with one hand tied behind their backs,' he said.
Evidence from prosecutors showed both French and Yanez Jr.'s weapons were still holstered when they were shot at during the August 7 traffic stop.
French, 29, was killed by a single shot to the head and Yanez Jr., 40, who released a video from the hospital, was struck in the brain, eye and shoulder.
Yanez Sr. told The Chicago Sun Times that his son doesn't want to see the mayor because Junior is 'no fan' to 'put it mildly.'
It was the latest example of feuds between Lightfoot, who has previously supported efforts to defund the police, and officers in the city over the past week in the aftermath of French's killing.
Last Thursday night Lightfoot mispronounced French's name, with the mayor mistakenly calling her 'Ella Franks.'
Chicago's Mayor and top cop get name of slain cop WRONG
Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown (left) and Mayor Lori Lightfoot referred to slain police officer Ella French as 'Ella Fitzgerald' and 'Ella Franks', respectively
That came in addition to gaffes by Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown, who called her 'Ella Fitzgerald' twice earlier last week.
That's on top of Lightfoot denying French an honor guard bagpipe procession from the hospital to the morgue, a customary and symbolic act of respect for an officer killed in the line of duty.
French, 29, was gunned down in a shootout while conducting what seemed like a routine traffic stop on Saturday.
Her partner, who has not been named, was wounded but survived.
After French was pronounced dead at the hospital last Saturday night, French's body was transported by ambulance to the medical examiner's office, and fellow officers were prepared to line the streets and play the bagpipes.
Chicago Police Officer Ella French, pictured, was shot dead last Saturday in the line of duty
Two hundred cops turned out to honor French at a prayer vigil last Tuesday after being 'banned' from holding the procession
But First Deputy Police Supt. Eric Carter banned it.
He told the EMTs driving the ambulance to carry on straight to the medical examiner's office for the autopsy to be carried out, saying: 'We don't have 20 minutes for this s**t.'
That same night, Lightfoot showed up at the hospital to offer her support to the families of French and her wounded partner.
Cops who were still there turned their backs on her when she arrived and there were reports that the mayor forced her way into the facility.
'There was — let me choose my words carefully — well-meaning but not well-organized group that wanted to hijack the procession, which would have meant that the family would have been delayed exponentially in getting to the morgue
On Wednesday, Lightfoot held a press conference to deny that claim and to also accuse the cops who wanted to perform the honor guard of 'hijacking' the night and depriving French's family of a crucial window of time to see her body before the autopsy was carried out.
She also railed against the journalists present, accusing them of asking her 'offensive' questions about forcing her way into the hospital and accusing them of 'mining from the bottom of the chum barrel' and producing 'sickening' reports that criticized her.
'There was no official honor guard that night.
'There was — let me choose my words carefully — well-meaning but not well-organized group that wanted to hijack the procession, which would have meant that the family would have been delayed exponentially in getting to the morgue.
'And again, given the new restrictions that the new coroner has put in place, that wouldn't have been fair to them and they may have lost an important window of time
'So the call was made, under those circumstances, to focus on the family.
Lightfoot addresses moment officers turned their backs on her
'Eric Carter made the right call. I support what he did and I'm horrified that in this moment people are trying to savage him for whatever agenda or purpose,' Lightfoot said.
She then fumed at the media and told them they were using unreliable sources.
'I would just caution you all. Be careful. Be careful. Check your sources. Make sure they're accurate. Get the right context. Because I know firsthand, it's really hard when the media becomes ferocious in propagating a story that's just not true.'
Lightfoot then got angry when a journalist asked her if she'd forced her way into the hospital.
'I don't force my way anywhere. And that's offensive, frankly, that you would ask me that question.
'I just sat here and talked about the fact that we've got to be really careful and you have to be really careful in your reporting and be responsible. And you just keep lobbing this nonsense that's offensive and insulting and really does a disservice to the moment that we're in.'
She questioned why it's acceptable 'for people to engage in such nasty, vicious talk' and then have it 'repeated by media as if it is fact and true.'
'People feel like it is their right to spew hatred at everyone that they don't agree with or make fun and mock, usually anonymously and cowardly from social media.
Eric Morgan is pictured during the traffic stop in the new body worn camera footage
The Morgan brothers were said to have been driving with expired license plates, prompting police to pull them over. They were charged in connection to French's killing
'I think our media plays a very important role in our democracy, but you lose me, you lose me when it's a race to the bottom and it's all about the fight and it's all about the conflict.
'I've got to tell you, some of the reporting I've seen this week is just sickening.
'We all need to ask ourselves what we can do better to show our people everywhere that we have the capacity to be human beings again.'
'Give me a break. What else are you going to mine from the bottom of the chum barrel? Come on. You're better than that. You're better than that. You're better than that,' she said.
Chicago police union boss John Catanzara told Fox News that Lightfoot had to shoulder some of the blame for French's death.
Two brothers - Emonte Morgan, 21, and his brother Eric, 22, have been arrested and charged after French, 29, was shot dead and her partner was critically injured during a routine traffic stop on Saturday.
Lightfoot arrived at the University of Chicago Medical Center shortly after the shooting, where dozens of police officers turned their backs when she greeted them. French's partner remains in critical condition at the hospital.
The father of the injured officer, who has not been named, reportedly told Lightfoot when she went to the hospital that 'there's blood on her hands.'
On Wednesday, Lightfoot held a press conference to deny that claim and to also accuse the cops who wanted to perform the honor guard of 'hijacking' the night
A former top police official has slammed the Chicago Police Department after it was revealed that a 'sacred' ritual was skipped after the shooting death of Ella French over time concerns.
Garry McCarthy, the department's former superintendent, told Fox News that officers 'feel under attack by politicians' after French's body was taken directly to the medical examiner's office for her autopsy without a guard of honor.
He claimed they avoided drawing their weapons to honor their fallen colleague - as is tradition - over fears they'd have to file a report for doing so, as part of new police reform laws.
The Emerald Society, an Irish-American fraternal organization for members who most often come from law enforcement, had gathered outside the medical examiner's office to play ceremonial bagpipes for her final send-off.
Garry McCarthy, the department's former superintendent, said Chicago cops 'feel under attack' from politicians like Lightfoot, who wanted to defund the police last summer despite soaring gun crime in the city
Chicago police and other officials worked swiftly to arrest three suspects after French's death, though charges have not yet been filed.
French was the first Windy City officer to be fatally shot in the line of duty in almost two years, and the first female cop shot to death in the line of duty since 1988.
Still, McCarthy blasted the department for skipping the procession - which he called an 'inexcusable' affront to cops in the city, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
'The officers here in CPD and probably across the country … feel under attack by politicians and the public. Most of them feel like they're not being supported by their leadership
Garry McCarthy, the department's former superintendent
'The officers here in CPD and probably across the country … feel under attack by politicians and the public. Most of them feel like they're not being supported by their leadership,' he said.
He added: 'It's so important, the sacred nature of rituals, certainly within policing.'
'If there's an excuse for what happened, then maybe, you know, Eric should talk about it publicly himself,' he said.
McCarthy said that officers also did not draw their weapons, as traditionally practiced after the death of a colleague. He blamed the skipping of that tradition on possible police reform measures.
'That's probably the result of a policy that was put in place for every time you draw your weapon, you have to do a report about it. Policing is entirely under attack, and that's why we have a 100% increase in the murder rate,' McCarthy said.
'There's always enough time. Let's put it that way. If we had to wait two or three days, I would have done it,' he said.