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CHICAGO -- It's been almost 32 years since patrolman Terrence Loftus was shot and killed while trying to break up a gang fight on the Northwest Side. But the pain is still fresh for those who gathered Wednesday to protest the possible parole of his killer.
About a dozen people, including others who've lost family members in the line of duty, went before a member of the state's Prison Review Board to speak against the release of Ronnie Carrasquillo, who was sentenced to 200 to 600 years in prison for the October 1976 shooting.
They say he has shown no remorse and granting him freedom would empower others to act violently against those who've sworn to protect the public.
"It's a very hard thing to tell your child what happened to your best friend when your best friend wore the same uniform you wore every day," said Raymond Adams, a retired Chicago police officer who grew up with Loftus and worked as his supervisor at the time of the shooting.
Loftus had just finished his shift with the Shakespeare District Tactical Team and was driving home around 2 a.m. when he saw a member of the Imperial Gangsters being chased and beaten by members of a rival street gang near Fullerton and Central Park Avenues.
Loftus stopped and tried to assist the man when Carrasquillo, who was attending an Imperial Gangsters party in a building across the street, ran outside, lay across the hood or trunk of a car and fired four or five shots, said Assistant State's Attorney Gina Savini.
One bullet hit Loftus in his right cheek and severed his spinal cord. He was on life support for two days before he died at St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
Savini, who also argued against Carrasquillo's release at the hearing at the Cook County Circuit Court building on South California Avenue, said Carrasquillo was angry at Loftus for interfering with gang activity in the neighborhood.
She said Carrasquillo knew Loftus from a run-in 2 1/2 months earlier, when Loftus came to the aid of Carrasquillo as he was being chased by a man with a gun.
"And the thanks [Carrasquillo] gave him," Savini said, "was to shoot him in the face and call him a pig."
Supporters of Carrasquillo, 50, have written letters to the review board stating he's a model inmate and deserves a second chance in the community, but Savini argued he would return to the streets as a "hero."