The afternoon of May 19 started off as a pretty typical Saturday for Sgt. Lori Mason.
That is, until just after conducting traffic detail for a graduation ceremony at the local convention center, when she heard .
Her shift had just ended, Mason said. But that didn't stop her from putting her police training to work.
"I had on my gym shoes at the time," the 51-year-old said with a laugh, after fellow officers joked that she was wearing "flip flops." "I changed my shoes and was leaving the station."
It was then that Mason heard a call with five men inside.
"I was in my unmarked squad, a Chevy Impala," Mason said. "I drove to the area … I understood the seriousness (of the situation) because it was unfolding on the radio."
Then, she spotted the car—one of three getaway cars that were parked near the scene, police have said—passing McDonald's as the driver continued southbound on Harlem Avenue.
"I saw five people smashed inside a red Neon," she said. "I initially didn't want to activate my lights. I wanted to get behind them first because I thought they might run. But traffic was real heavy. I had to turn my lights on so I could turn around."
She said she was "kind of surprised they pulled over," and noted that cooperated fully with her commands when she began calling them over a speaker in her squad car. Her fellow officers showed in a matter of seconds to offer back-up. The men were arrested in the parking lot of Tin Fish on Harlem Avenue near 183rd Street, about 1/2 mile from the .
Each now faces one count of felony mob action. The Indiana residents were identified as Cody Sutherlin, 23; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; John Tucker, 26; and Jason Sutherlin, 33. The Sutherlins are brothers.
"Your adrenaline (takes) over," Mason said. "It was like, 'I can't believe this is happening in Tinley.' You really rely on your backup skills."
Mason was honored for her off-duty bravery at Tuesday's Board meeting. Trustees said if not for her, these men may have never been identified.
"The crimes perpetrated at the restaurant were extremely serious and would have been nearly impossible to solve without the immediate arrest of these suspects," said Trustee Brian Maher, chair of the Public Safety Committee. "Sgt. Mason should be recognized for her attention to duty, courage and professionalism making this apprehension."
Mayor Ed Zabrocki also applauded her initiative.
"It's too often we hear the negative side of police work," he said. "It's nights like this that make it all worthwhile."
Both Zabrocki and Mason asked that Mason's photo not be published on Tinley Park Patch.