Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Department (CPD) Officer Paul Escamilla died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Monday night.
Cook County Sheriff’s police discovered the 40-year-old officer’s body in the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve near Touhy Avenue and Caldwell Avenue at approximately 7 p.m., WLS reported.
The off-duty officer’s death was ruled a suicide, according to the CPD.
“It was shocking,” CPD 20th District Commander Sean Loughran told WLS. “This type of thing never really makes sense to the living.”
Officer Escamilla, a 17-year veteran-of-the-force, was “one of my strongest members of the team,” Commander Loughran told the Chicago Tribune.
“He truly wore his heart on his sleeve,” the commander added. “I don’t want to call him a teddy bear, but he was a nice guy.”
Officer Escamilla was assigned as an aide to 24th District Commander Michelle Rubino at the time of his death, CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told WLS.
“He was very well-liked. A friend to many on the department,” Guglielmi said. “This was very unexpected and is hitting the District exceptionally hard.”
The highly-decorated officer was the recipient of “more than 120 awards” during his career, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a Facebook post.
“I am heartsick as we mourn the passing of beloved Chicago Police Officer Paul Escamilla,” Lightfoot wrote. “He most recently served in the Rogers Park neighborhood where he was revered by his fellow officers and community members.”
“No one should feel they are alone or think they have nowhere to turn, especially our first responders,” the mayor continued. “From the moment they put on their uniform, they answer a call that at any second may put their lives in danger.”
Lightfoot said that the city of Chicago should strive to “constantly strengthen” first responders’ support network and to “end any negative perception of reaching out for help.”
“Chicago’s first responders deserve nothing less,” she added.
Officer Escamilla leaves behind his wife, Stacy, and three young children, Peter, Katherine, and Leo, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.
His funeral service is scheduled for Sept. 23.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chicago Police Department Officer Paul Escamilla, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.