By Dennis Robaugh
Chicago, Illinois – A neighborhood argument across a backyard fence in which the weapons escalated from dirt, rocks and a broom to a shotgun and a handgun turned deadly on the South Side Friday, leaving an 86-year-old man dead and a police officer's wife seriously wounded.
An off-duty Chicago Police officer heard his wife in an argument with the 90-year-old woman living next door on Friday at about 2:15 p.m. When he went to the back yard, he saw the neighbor hitting his wife with a broom and throwing rocks and dirt at her.
The elderly woman, Hazel, called for her husband to "get that thing," and 86-year-old Joe Huff Jr. then brought a shotgun into the fray, firing and striking the officer's wife in the arm and head, according to police.
The cop shot and killed the old man. Hazel went for the shotgun, according to police, and the officer told her not to try. She tried to pick the weapon up, and the officer shot her, according to police.
The Chicago Police Department released a statement saying the officer was "in fear of his life" when he fired on his elderly neighbors.
Others who live on the street, in the 8400 block of South Carpenter in the Gresham community, say everyone knows about the running feud between the Huffs and their neighbors.
“The whole block is aware of the long-going battle between these two families. It’s been going on for a couple of years,” Taniesha Clay told the Chicago Sun-Times. Clay's grandma lives on the block, too. “Last year, myself and other neighbors saw the officer and his wife attack Mr. Huff. The officer handcuffed him to a gate, and his wife was allowed to batter him with a shovel. It was early in the morning, and we all saw it.
“It is not what the police are portraying.”
The Independent Police Review Authority is reviewing the fatal shooting.
“He is 86 and they argued every day,” Huff told the paper.
A neighbor said the Huffs and the officer would toss snow on each other's walkways and parked cars. Trash was also strewn into the yards.
"This is not the first confrontation," another son, Joe Huff III, said. "This man has picked on my father for years."
Both wives were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for treatment, while the police officer was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital after he complained of chest pains and shortness of breath."It's a very tragic situation " Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Tribune. "He's going to defend his wife and he's going to defend his life."
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