MOMENCE — Shortly before 10 a.m. Aug. 26, Momence Police Chief Brian Brucato and Lt. Kenny Strunk left the Kankakee County Courthouse after getting some search warrants signed by a judge.
Unbeknownst to the officers, the three men walking behind them included two soon-to-be victims and one assailant in a shootout that would take place moments later.
The officers’ quick action in the coming minutes — which led to the surrender and arrest of one of the shooters — earned them awards for heroism and high praise from Momence Mayor Chuck Steele during the Momence City Council meeting Tuesday night.
“They were met with one of the greatest threats to the public — witnessing a shootout at the Kankakee County Courthouse,” Steele said. “They acted with great courage and bravery to do their jobs with what I consider heroism, putting themselves in great danger and doing their jobs selflessly to apprehend the suspect and protect the public.”
Brucato has been a police officer for 21 years and police chief in Momence since 2017, while Strunk has been an officer for 27 years and with Momence for four years. Both said they were surprised by the recognition Tuesday night.
“I’m very thankful, and grateful that no innocent bystanders were hurt, including ourselves,” Brucato said.
The officers recalled what can only be described in retrospect as “being in the right place at the right time.”
“We were pulling away from the rear of the courthouse when we heard a loud noise,” Brucato recalled. “We thought it was coming from my vehicle.”
As it turns out, the noise was the start of back-and-forth gunfire that ended in two deaths and one injury.
“Literally within 30 to 40 seconds, we were pulling off the back of the ramp, and the gunfire started,” Brucato said.
Brucato and Strunk got out of their vehicle as shots were being fired and worked their way toward the old jail in pursuit of suspect Miguel Andrade, who had retrieved an assault-style weapon from his vehicle, according to police.
“We got out of the vehicle and were trying to approach with cover, to be tactically sound and assess what was going on,” Strunk said.
The suspect dropped his weapon and surrendered to police after being approached by the Momence officers, Brucato said.
Kankakee Police Officer Justin Wynne assisted and took Andrade into custody, Brucato said.
Neither Momence officer could compare Aug. 26 to any other day in their 20-plus-year careers.
“Most shootings happen pretty fast,” Strunk said. “I mean, they are over within a couple of seconds. This one was not. This one was several minutes unfolding. It’s like it almost wasn’t real. It was unfolding and lasting several minutes.”
Steele presented the officers with awards Tuesday night and thanked them for their efforts on behalf of the city council.
“You both are great examples of bravery, courage and heroism, that is something the world desperately needs more of,” Steele said. “Thank you for making us all better people in your presence.”