Senate passes legislation to honor officers involved in gunfight

Springfield – Legislation to honor two officers and a civilian killed in a gunfight in 1979, along with another officer wounded in the battle, has now been adopted by the General Assembly, after the Illinois Senate passed the measure on May 28. The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by State Senators Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“These brave men stood up against dangerous criminals to protect the community,” said Sen. Barickman. “After nearly 40 years, we will soon have a permanent memorial to their sacrifice.”

On April 7, 1979, the three officers and one civilian were involved a gunfight with members of a Michigan family after a traffic stop on I-57, South of Paxton. Illinois State Trooper Michael McCarter was attempting to stop four speeding vehicles travelling south. Paxton Patrolman William Caisse was dispatched to assist McCarter. One of the suspects fled to an overpass and began firing at the two officers, killing McCarter and Donald Vice, McCarter’s brother-in-law who was riding along with him on his shift. A second Paxton officer, Larry Hale, arrived to the scene as gunfire continued. A second suspect grabbed a rifle from the back of his pickup truck and killed Caisse before shooting Hale in the leg and chest. Despite his wounds, Hale was able to kill the second suspect.

House Joint Resolution 21, originally filed by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), will designate the overpass where 200 North Road crosses I-57 as the “McCarter-Caisse-Vice-Hale Memorial Overpass.”

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