Breaking: Maywood Resident and Cook Co. Sheriff’s Deputy, Cuauhtemoc Estrada, Fatally Shot While Intervening in Robbery Attempt
By Michael Romain
Cuauhtemoc Estrada, 50, was shot and killed last night while trying to stop an armed robbery in neighboring Bellwood. Estrada, a Sheriff’s officer and well-known resident of Maywood, had been at a family holiday party at the VFW hall in the 200 block of 30th Avenue before walking outside at about 7:15 pm and encountering an armed robbery in progress in the parking lot.
The Chicago Tribunereported that Estrada’s daughter and her boyfriend were held at gunpoint by two men in ski masks. As the former Marine reached for his gun, he was shot in the chest. Estrada was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center, where, according to the Tribune report, he was pronounced dead at 8:08 pm. Sheriff Tom Dart addressed the media this morning, saying that, at present, there are no leads on the case.
Estrada was a beloved resident of Maywood whose outsized reputation as a devoted community member and family man reverberated throughout the Western Suburbs. He was perhaps best known for planning the popular Azteca Festival that was held in Maywood for several years.
Here’s an excerpt from the Tribune report:
Outside a family member’s home in Maywood today, the daughter Estrada was trying to protect, Christina Estrada, 19, cried as she looked down at a necklace her father gave her that includes a pendant in the shape of a miniature gold Cook County Sheriff’s badge with her father’s badge number.
Cuauhtemoc Estrada gave that necklace to his daughters as birthday gifts. Christina said she never takes hers off.
She described her dad as a devoted father. “He was always there for us.”
“Now he’s not going to be able to see me walk across the stage when I graduate college.”
“It just seems so unreal.”
Estrada’s boyfriend’s brother Leonzo Anaya said his brother was “devastated.”
“He’s broken on the inside.”
Estrada’s former sister-in-law, Patty Santamaria, said he dedicated his life to protecting people. “Not just his own family but his entire community,” she said. “He fought hard to clean up his own streets.”
Although he was divorced from Santamaria’s sister, Estrada remained close with his ex-wife and her family, Santamaria said. The couple lived across the street from each other and other relatives lived on the block, she said.
Estrada, who had four children and three grandchildren, often would start the cars of family on his block, and would deliver morning coffee and doughnuts. “It’s just so devastating,” she said. “So tragic.”
Family and friends called Estrada by his last name or “Temo,” Santamaria said.
Estrada often organized block parties for his close-knit family, Santamaria said. Friday’s party was one of the events he planned each year, she said.
Before joining the Cook County Sheriff’s police, Estrada – a Marine – served in Desert Storm, Santamaria said.
When Estrada was shot, Santamaria was on her way to the party with his youngest daughter, who is 13.
“I had to tell her,” Santamaria said.
Dart said he had worked with Estrada for years. “He was an amazing person, funny, caring, thoughtful. [It’s] just horrifically tragic,” Dart said. “I mean, everyone’s just stunned.”
The sheriff remained on the scene hours after announcing the death in an impromptu press conference, emerging about 1:15 a.m. from a meeting of police supervisors inside a bank on St. Charles Road near the VFW at 2817 St. Charles Road.
The sheriff’s office was working with Bellwood police, said Ben Breit, a spokesman for the sheriff.
“(Estrada) was an exceptional investigator, but an even better man who loved his family, his friends and his country,” Breit said in a statement. “Quite simply, he made this world a better place and will be missed by all whose lives he touched.” VFP