Friday, July 20, 2012
Person of intrest being questioned
Authorities are questioning a suspect in a hit-and-run crash that killed a correctional officer as she was about to begin her overnight shift at Cook County Jail.
Police found a vehicle that matched the description to the one they were looking for, a source said. The vehicle also had a license plate number that nearly matched the one given in a community alert about the investigation, a source said. The suspect lives not far from the jail, the source said.
No charges had been filed as of Thursday evening in connection with the accident that killed Nikkii Bostic-Jones, 38, sources said. She worked for 13 years with the Cook County sheriff's office; twelve of those years was as a correctional officer, and a year as a social worker.
Bostic-Jones was struck while crossing California Avenue near 29th Street just before 11 p.m. Wednesday. Police said she was hit by a navy blue van with stolen license plates and knocked into the path of a sheriff's squad car and pinned underneath it.
Police issued an alert for the van, described as a navy blue full-size conversion van, possibly with blue and white stripes. The alert said the van may have damage to the headlights, front end and right side.
Bostic-Jones's husband, James Jones, said he and their 6-year-old daughter Nikkia watched the officer suit up for work. "Love you all," she said going out the door, as she did every night.
"We're making it. It's like a dream to me, I'm not sure. I still don't believe it," Jones said in a weary voice earlier today.
The oldest of seven children, Bostic-Jones grew up in the Douglas Park neighborhood on the West Side with dreams of being a cop.
"She was a wonderful, wonderful person, she's always wanted to be a police officer," said her cousin, Cissi Bostic, her voice shaking with grief.
Bostic-Jones helped raise her younger siblings while pursuing an education, her family said.
"Nikkii was always the one who went to school," said Cissi Bostic, who grew up with her older cousin. "She went from high school straight to college. She never stopped with her education. She was the smartest one. I'm like, 'OK, I want to be like Nikkii when I grow up.'
"She was my role model," she said.
Bostic-Jones and her husband had been married for seven years but were together for 25 years. The two grew up about three blocks from each other and both attended Collins High School.
Jones, 46, said he was 14 when he first met his future wife. A friend's girlfriend had a steady job babysitting her, but he was about seven years older. It wasn't until he graduated from college and returned to his West Side home that he saw her again through a mutual friend, he said.
"Her friend was dating one of my friends and I saw her and I was like, 'Hey, who is that?' " he said. "In 1994, I meet this girl and that's the same girl I was around all the time. I really didn't pay any attention to her."
Jones said his daughter saw the news about the accident. "She was watching the news and she said, 'Turn it up, I want to see mommy," Jones said. "I told her that, 'Your mommy got hit by car and she got hurt real bad and she passed away.' She understands, she knows."
Because his wife worked the night shift from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m., their weekends were devoted to "family time," said Jones. They often rented a movie which the family would watch while eating popcorn in their Plainfield home. Inevitably, his wife would always doze off, Jones said with a chuckle.
Before he was laid off about nine months ago from the Chicago Public Schools, the two had different schedules and barely saw each other. But after he lost his job, the family would shop together. They also traveled and hit restaurants together, he said.
"It was all about family time, it was a lot of fun" said Jones.
He said his wife was very athletic and played basketball and other sports. "She was very competitive," he said.
Bostic-Jones loved watching track and field events and tennis, and was looking forward to watching the Olympic games. She also had a Ninja motorcycle she would ride with friends, Jones said.
"She rode them better than some men, I didn't know how to ride so she used to ride me on the back of it," Jones said.
He said his wife loved her job as a correctional officer, a job she had for about a decade. She had previously worked as a social worker for the county, but decided she wanted to be a deputy.
"I remember the day she was going to do it. She was mingling around the other officers and said, 'I'm going to take the [entrance] test, and she passed it," said Jones. "Nikkii was just a take charge person, [she liked] the authority of being a peace officer. When people saw her badge, people wanted to talk to her."
She had worked both at the super maximum security section and the maximum security division of the jail. She said her "bubbly personality," combined with her no nonsense manner, garnered respect from the inmates and anyone else who met her.
"They respected her, she didn't have no problems," said Jones. "She didn't play, she didn't sugar coat nothing. She was to the point, she'll tell you but she wouldn't try to hurt your feelings. She never had a problem, its just her attitude. She had the attitude that was bubbly, people were just drawn to her."
Cook County Sheriff Department spokesman Frank Bilecki said morale in the department is very low as co-workers struggled to come to terms with her death. Even the inmates who she dealt with at the jail were affected by her death, said Bilecki.
"She would start her shift off with a hug for her co-workers and by saying have a great day," said Bilecki. "She did a phenomenal job in her job. The detainees were sad because she treated them with respect."
Bilecki said the officer in the squad car that hit her was devastated and was undergoing crisis counseling. The 42-year-old veteran officer was treated and released from St. Anthony Hospital after the accident.
"He's very fragile right now," said Bilecki.
The union representing corrections officers said the stretch of street where Bostic-Jones was killed is "notorious for being extremely dangerous," and called on the city to make it safer.
"Teamsters Local 700 is calling on the city of Chicago to secure an improved crosswalk or stop light on California Boulevard outside the jail," union president William P. Logan said in a statement.
“To hear that a correctional officer has been killed crossing the street just trying to go to work is beyond belief,” Logan said. "The duties of correctional officers are dangerous ones. I would sooner expect to hear that an officer was injured as a result of some act of violence within the jail. Nikkii was just trying to go to work.”
Jones said his wife always complained about the street.
"She felt they were taking their lives into their own hands," said Jones. "They have to have a light there or something."