A manhunt continued in Illinois late Thursday for two suspects wanted in connection with a Wednesday shooting in Kankakee County, south of Chicago, that left one police officer dead and another hospitalized in critical condition.
The slain officer was identified as Bradley police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, 49, who was just five years from her planned retirement after a career that has also included service with the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department, FOX 32 of Chicago reported.
One family member described Rittmanic as the "backbone" of her family.
"The crazy thing is they’d probably have to kick her out, she loved her job so much," Ashlee Johnson, Rittmanic's niece, told FOX 32. "She wasn’t that type of person that wanted to pull you over to give you a ticket, unless she felt it was absolutely the only thing she had to do, but she wasn’t that kind of cop. She always aimed to be a cop to make a difference."
The slaying of Rittmanic, and the wounding of her partner, Officer Tyler Bailey, 27, during their investigation of a noise complaint at a Comfort Inn in Kankakee County drew words of appreciation Thursday from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic and Officer Tyler J. Bailey are the definition of heroes," Pritzker’s message said, in part. "They showed unwavering courage and the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect all of us. It’s a sacrifice no one should have to make."
Meanwhile, warrants have been issued for two suspects in connection with Rittmanic’s death, FOX 32 reported.
Suspect Darius Sullivan, 25, of Bourbonnais, Illinois, was considered armed and dangerous, and a $25,000 reward was posted for information leading to his arrest, the station reported. Sullivan has a lengthy criminal record, with multiple open cases for alleged offenses from burglary to battery, the report said.
Also being sought was suspect Xandria Harris, 26, of Bradley, Illinois, FOX 32 reported.
According to authorities, Rittmanic and Bailey were called to the motel around 9:41 p.m. Wednesday to investigate loud dog barking from an unattended vehicle.
When they arrived, they began talking with the possible owner of the vehicle when other people from inside the same motel room began firing at the officers, killing Rittmanic and critically wounding Bailey, FOX 32 reported.
On Thursday afternoon, Bradley police officers flashed vehicle lights in a long procession in tribute to Rittmanic, according to the station.
Bradley is located about 58 miles south of Chicago.
Rittmanic’s death came the same day that a sheriff’s deputy in Wayne County, Illinois, also was killed in the line of duty. Deputy Sean Riley was slain around 5 a.m. on Interstate 64 near the Illinois-Indiana line.
A suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with Riley’s death.