CHICAGO (CBS) — The FBI is leading the search for a group of suspects who ambushed a pair of armed security guards Monday morning.
Gunfire killed 47-year-old LaShonda Hearts, as she was doing what security experts call one of the most dangerous jobs. Her 46-year-old partner was rushed to University of Chicago hospital with two bullet wounds.
CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra has more on how he’s doing. GuardaWorld said he’s still in the hospital. They have not shared the severity of his injuries.
Investigators are also tight lipped on the search for those suspects. CBS 2 started digging into the business of moving cash where the threat of violence is part of the job.
Friends of LaShonda Hearts said her job as an armored truck guard was a goal achieved.
“We always encouraged her as a family to just pursue her dreams. And she did. She said she was going to do it, and she made that happen. That was something she really aspired to do.”
She did it, knowing the risks. But not knowing it would come to cost her life.
“Servicing ATMs is an extremely dangerous job.”
Jim McGuffey is a security expert, who spent 26 years in armored trucking. He now consults on best practices.
“One person dedicated solely to guarding the person who is servicing the ATM. Ideally, you have three people,” McGuffey said.
GardaWorld said Hearts, her 46-year-old partner and a third person were working Monday morning, loading cash into a Bank of America machine in West Chatham when two to four masked suspects ambushed them.
Two shots hit the partner, six hit Hearts. She later died at University of Chicago Hospital. The third employee was not hurt.
Back in March, another GardaWorld team was targeted while emptying an ATM in North Austin. No guards were hurt, but one did fire at the suspects who got away.
“The pay is nowhere near commensurate with where the risk level is,” McGuffey said.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average armored car guard salary is just over $35,500 a year in Chicago. That’s some $49,000 less than the average annual salary of a Chicago police officer. The Department of Transportation oversees trucking rules, but there is no industry wide regulation on guard training.
“So, you count on the carriers themselves to provide the training and the equipment that these front line people need to do their jobs safely, as safely as possible anyway,” McGuffey said.
Monday’s ambush showed that danger is always possible. It’s a lesson LaShonda Hearts’ family never hoped to learn.
CBS 2 spoke with the Secure Cash and Transport Association. It has members who track attacks like this across the country. A representative for the organization said while the number of incidents with armored cars has not increased, data shows the level of violence in each of these crimes has, across the board.