CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call accidentally shot and killed a 55-year-old woman, who was among two people fatally wounded by police gunfire, the department said late Saturday.

Relatives said Bettie Jones lived downstairs from Quintonio LeGrier, the 19-year-old who prompted the initial call to police and who also was killed.

Officers who responded to the call "were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon," the Chicago Police Department said in a brief statement.

"The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed," reads the statement, which extends "deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends."

It's clear that at least one police officer opened fire early Saturday morning at a two-story home on Chicago's West Side. Mortally wounded by the gunfire was 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who was home from college for the holidays and staying with his father in an upstairs apartment. Also killed was 55-year-old Bettie Jones, who lived in the ground-floor apartment. Police were responding to a 911 call made by LeGrier's father, Antonio LeGrier, after an argument with his son. A police statement said officers "were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon." It added the "female victim was accidentally struck."

 

A cousin of LeGrier's, Albert Person, says police indicated to LeGrier's father afterward that the teenager opened the door holding a bat as officers arrived. Person, who spoke to LeGrier's father at length about the incident, said it appeared shots were first fired at the teenager and Jones was shot as she tried to intervene. But lawyers for the Jones family say that it may have been Jones who opened the door for police and that police opened fire soon after.

Sam Adam Jr., a Jones family lawyer, says Jones and LeGrier were apparently shot near the doorway, but that shell casings were found some 20 feet away. He said that raised questions about whether police could have perceived LeGrier as a threat at such a distance. It couldn't be independently verified that the casings had any link to Saturday's shooting.

Bettie Jones was a mother of five who, a family spokesman said, also had more than a dozen grandchildren. She had hosted family on Christmas Day, just hours before she was shot. She was known for working with community groups committed to reducing violence, said Person, who said he was also a friend of hers. Person said it would have been in Jones' character to get up when she heard commotion outside and to attempt to help Quintonio LeGrier.

The 19-year-old was an engineering student at Northern Illinois University, according to relatives. "My son was going somewhere. ... He wasn't just a thug on the street," his mother said Sunday. She challenged reports that her son might have had emotional or mental illness issues, saying that's wasn't the case.