Police Officer Daniel J. Doffyn was shot and killed when he surprised burglary suspects at an apartment complex.
At 3:30 in the afternoon, Dan Doffyn and other officers were heading for their squad cars at the Austin District police station. They were about to begin their shift when they heard a radio report of a burglary in progress at a three-story, 15-unit apartment building directly across the street from the police station. A number of officers rushed to the scene, including Dan Doffyn.
They arrived to the sound of breaking glass. This alerted the officers to an escape attempt out an apartment window. Officer Doffyn ran to a gangway alongside the building and caught one of the suspects just as he was coming out the window. He was preparing to make the arrest when a second suspect, who took aim at the officer with a Tec-9 automatic handgun and fired, surprised him. Officer Doffyn was hit twice in areas not covered by his bulletproof vest. He died five hours later during surgery at Cook County Hospital.
Another officer was also shot during the gun battle, but despite a serious leg injury, he was still able to fire his weapon and critically wound the shooter. When the shooting had stopped, three suspects were in custody; all gang members with extensive criminal records.
Approximately 20 minutes before the shootout with police, the three suspects shot and injured a rival gang member. They fled to the apartment of one of the suspect's girlfriends. She was not home at the time and they broke in. Another tenant in the building called police to report the burglary. Fearing that police were chasing them for the earlier shooting, one of the suspects reportedly ordered his cohorts to go "at it till the end," and they obliged.
The shooter was sentenced to death, but that conviction was overturned by then-Governor George H. Ryan who issued a moratorium on the death penalty and emptied the states death row by commuting the sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison.
On October 17, 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered new trials for two men convicted of killing Officer Doffyn, because the prosecution displayed the bloodstained uniform of Officer Daniel Doffyn. The court applied a similar reasoning in their decision that threw out the convictions of two who were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in Doffyns shooting.
Police Officer Daniel Doffyn was on the force for 8 months. He is survived by his 8-year-old daughter and his parents.