A vigilante who claimed to be a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer is accused of shooting and killing a black woman for allegedly shoplifting. Police have contacted the man, but have not yet arrested him as of this writing.
ABC 7 Chicago reported that Varnado, 46, was initially suspected of shoplifting feminine care products at a Walgreen’s store on the Northwest side of Chicago last Wednesday when a store manager confronted her. At that point, police say a vigilante with a gun “intervened,” who eventually shot her in the head. The vigilante claimed he was with the CPD before fleeing in a blue or black Ford SUV.
Sircie Varnado — a mother of five who family members say was disabled and unemployed — was eventually pronounced dead at Mount Sinai hospital.
“There are many ways he could have apprehended her without shooting her in the face,” Varnado’s sister, Maria Reed, told ABC 7. “He could have Tased her, he could have subdued her, hold her down, even pepper sprayed her, at least she would have been alive.”
“I want to know why didn’t the manager call police instead of this wannabe security guard,” she added.
Police told local media that while they have been in contact with the who they say shot Sircie Varnado, he has not yet been arrested. Officers confirmed the armed vigilante was not an officer, only that he had a valid Firearm Owners Identification card (required to own a gun in Illinois) and a concealed carry license. Officers described him to ABC 7 as an “unofficial security guard” at the Walgreens.
The CPD’s News Affairs division confirmed to Grit Post that officers were in contact with a “person of interest” in regard to the shooting of Sircie Varnado, but that the individual’s name has not yet been released and that they have not yet been arrested.
Sircie Varnado’s death is similar to the death of Trayvon Martin, in that she was killed not by a police officer, but by an armed vigilante. In the case of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman — the vigilante who shot and killed the unarmed teenager who was walking back home from a convenience store — escaped conviction, pleading self-defense.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.