A 95-year-old man who served his country during World War II is now dead after police stormed his retirement home with riot shields, Tasered him and shot him with bean bag rounds – all because he adamantly refused to undergo high-risk surgery.
U.S. Army Air Corps veteran John Wrana, who was honorably discharged as a sergeant after he served in the India-Burma campaign, used a walker because family members said he was “wobbly” on his feet, according to the Chicago Tribune. The elderly veteran was shot down by enemy fire during the war.
On July 26, a doctor reportedly told Wrana if he survived surgery, he would likely be put on life support. The elderly man refused the operation, and paramedics attempted to involuntarily transport him for medical treatment. He was sitting in a chair, holding a cane and a shoe horn when police arrived at the Victory Centre senior living facility located just south of Chicago.
The Cook County medical examiner reported that Wrana bled to death internally from injuries caused when the elderly man was shot in the stomach with a 12-gauge shotgun that fired a bag filled with lead shot. The death has been ruled a homicide, according to reports.
“The Japanese military couldn’t get him at the age he was touchable, in a uniform in the war,” Wrana family attorney Nicholas Grapsas told the Tribune. “It took 70 years later for the Park Forest police to do the job.”
Grapsas said he was told “there were between five and seven police officers” at the scene.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is investigating the incident. According to the Park Forest police account, Grapsas had threatened officers with a two-foot-long metal shoe horn and cane.
“Attempts were made verbally to have the resident comply with demands to drop the articles, to no avail,” the police statement said. “The resident then armed himself with a 12-inch butcher type kitchen knife.”
But Grapsas told the Tribune the staff and Wrana’s family said they never saw a butcher knife in his room.
“So where did the knife come from?” the attorney asked.
Maria Oliva, an executive with Pathway Senior Living, said staff members were kept outside of the room when police were present.
“The staff was not inside once the police were on the scene,” she said. “At different times the staff were in there, but not when they were called. They (the police) were in charge at that point.”
While police said Wrana had made threats against the staff, Grapsas said staff members urged police to let them calm the elderly man.
“If there were threats to the staff, why did the staff want to intervene and say, ‘Let us handle this; we’ll get him calmed down’?” he asked.
Now Wrana’s family is desperate for an explanation.
“I want answers,” his 74-year-old step-daughter said. “I want someone held accountable.”