'It was done execution-style'
'It was done execution-style'
Maywood cop, father of 5, shot to death
October 25, 2006
BY FRANK MAIN AND ANNIE SWEENEY Crime Reporters
Investigators were interviewing three male "persons of interest" in the shooting of 37-year-old Officer Thomas Wood, said Officer Pirsia Allen, a Maywood police spokesman. He could not give a motive.
The department received a 911 call at 11:17 p.m. Monday from a resident who saw Wood slumped over the wheel of his police vehicle near Sixth and Erie.
"Tom came from a real hard life and was tough and rough," said his wife, who asked that her name not be used because she fears for her family's safety. "He just wanted to straighten the world out."
A Maywood officer since 1997, Wood was shot after notifying dispatchers that a drug trafficking call he investigated was unfounded, Allen said.
"It was done execution-style, most definitely," he said.
Wood, a member of the K-9 team, was found in his marked vehicle with the driver's side window open. It appeared he was shot six times in the head and once in the chest, according to preliminary reports. His dog, Daro, was unharmed.
Bullet holes were found in a white car parked nearby, Allen said. Investigators recovered bullet casings, he said.
Police arrive in seconds
Edward Bowman, who lives at Sixth and Erie, said he heard the shots and ran to a bedroom where his two children were sleeping to make sure they were OK.
Then he looked out the window and saw Wood slumped over the wheel. A neighbor was on a cell phone yelling "An officer is down." Police officers arrived in about 30 seconds, Bowman said.
"I thought they would knock on my door, but they busted it down and three to five officers ran inside," he said.
Bowman, 32, said he and his wife and children were petrified as officers shined their flashlights into his home and yelled "What do you know? Did you see anything?" Later, a police lieutenant apologized for the officers barging in, Bowman said.
"They definitely went overboard," he said. "My 5-year-old daughter was shivering with fear."
Bowman said he knew Wood, who regularly patrolled the neighborhood.
"I feel really bad for his wife and kids," he said. "He seemed like a nice guy."
Bowman said he plans to move because of the violence in the neighborhood. He said there was another killing across the street a few months ago. A "Stop the Shooting" poster is displayed in one neighbor's window.
There have been nine murders this year in west suburban Maywood, compared to seven at the same time in 2005, Allen said. Gangs are an increasing problem for the village of about 26,000 people, but the neighborhood where Wood was killed is not considered a "problem area," he said.
Pulled over his future wife
Wood lived in a large home in northwest suburban Schiller Park. He and his wife first met in 1995 when she was coaching a local gymnastics team. A former gymnast at East Leyden High School, he volunteered to help but never followed up, his wife said.
The two met up again in 1997.
"He stopped me for speeding," the 36-year-old woman said, her face breaking into a smile.
He never ticketed her for the stop in Stone Park, where he worked as a cop before joining the Maywood force. Next thing she knew, he was stopping by her west suburban home regularly.
They started dating in 1998. They had two children and also raised three from her earlier marriage -- ages 6 to 17.
Wood, who attended Robert Morris College, began his police career in Schiller Park before going to Stone Park and eventually Maywood. He worked part-time security at Proviso East High School in Maywood, where students there called him Robocop.
His wife said his caring nature makes the shooting harder to understand.
"I've got to be OK with it," she said, her head falling and tears welling. "I can't hate. But they need to know they left a large, young family alone. I will never find someone like that again. He cherished me. I was his queen."