Chicago Remembers Chicago Police Officer Irma Ruiz Who Gave Her Life Protecting School Students


33 years-ago today the call came across the Chicago Police Department radio, heard on the old Zone-9, and simulcasted across all CPD radio frequencies by the communications section dispatcher: "Units in the 12th district and units on citywide, shots fired at 1334 S. Ashland Ave"

This call sent several 012th District units to the scene, and while that response was occurring, Officers Irma Ruiz - Star#16823, and her partner, Gregory Jaglowski - Star# 13449 were working Beat 7452 (CPD Youth Division). Ruiz and Jaglowski were sent to remove an unruly student from nearby Montefiore school at 1310 S. Ashland. 

The Offender, now identified as Clemie Henderson, date of birth 26 Nov 1947, "entered the auto-parts store at 1334 S. Ashland. Offender then produced a handgun and shot victims John VanDyke Jr (Victim #1) Owner of Comet Auto Parts, Robert Quninn (Victim #2), and fled nothbound on Ashland Ave. in the direction of Montefiore School." - Chicago Police Dept investigation record quote

Offender then shot Unidentified Male Black 35 years-old (victim #3 - name redacted in records) possibly Laplose Chestnut, and Art Baker (Victim #6). Offender then confronted Officers Ruiz (Victim #4) and Jaglowski (Victim #5) at Montefiore school. Jaglowski fired shots at offender who was struck fatally in the lobby of the school. Investigation ruled this a justifiable homicide.

The Chicago Tribune published a news article dated for Sept 23rd, 1988, giving details that the Chicago Police Department homicide file does not give.  The Tribune article reveals that the school's principal was Bernard Karlin, and that Karlin has assisted Art Baker to safety after Baker was shot by Henderson. 

The below quote from that same Chicago Tribune story details the fact that the City of Chicago KNEW Henderson was mentally ill, and that he was prescribed medication for Depression. 

 Below is Henderson's Chicago Police Department Arrest Record

Arrest record courtesy of the Chicago Police Dept FOIA Unit
Henderson arrest booking photo courtesy of the Chicago Police Dept FOIA Unit

There were danger signs prior to this mass shooting, up to at least THREE YEARS before. On 16 October 1985, police were called to 1269 W. Cabrini. This is the address where Henderson's girlfriend at that time was living. That day police were called to his girlfriend's address, Henderson had been experiencing a psychiatric crisis, and was saying he "felt like people were trying to drive him crazy, and that he was going to kill himself". 

A Chicago Police Department Hospitalization Case Report shows that Henderson kept a .22 caliber gun in a bedroom closet in the home, and that he retrieved that gun. That same record shows that his girlfriend made an unsuccessful attempt to disarm him, and then went to wake her children up. While she was trying to wake her children, she states she heard a gunshot from her bedroom.  Henderson had shot himself in the head. 

012th District Tactical Officer Jerome "Jerry" Rusnak - Star# 11162 was the first officer at the scene that October day. 

Below is the full record from that investigation into that suicide attempt. This record was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act Request to the Chicago Police Dept who provided the record as part of the homicide investigation record involving the murder of Officer Ruiz. 

Cook County Hospital charged Henderson $12,000.00 for his medical care subsequent to his suicide attempt documented in the above CPD Hospitalization Case Report. 

Henderson's last documented arrest prior to committing this mass shooting shows as a Disorderly Conduct charge, continuing a pattern of low-level misdemeanor arrests. With no known motive for the mass shooting, and a history of psychiatric medication non-compliance, there is no information as to what exactly led Henderson to commit such a tragic and irreversible act. 

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