Persuaded more than 100 criminal suspects to surrender

Russ Ewing was a longtime fearless Chicago TV news reporter who persuaded more than 100 criminal suspects to surrender. Ewing was a Chicago firefighter who then became a TV reporter, first working with Chicago station WMAQ and later with WLS. He became a trusted figure on the Chicago streets, and many criminals trusted Ewing to bring them in safely to the police. In 1975, Ewing and newspaper publisher Gus Savage talked two men into surrendering after they robbed a currency exchange and held two women hostage. Ewing was also an accomplished jazz pianist who performed on “The Tonight Show.”

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Died: Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (Who else died on June 25?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 95 from bladder cancer.


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On why he was trusted by criminals: "On the street and with the underworld there’s a better communications system than [the media] has.” “People know who can be trusted, and I think the word has spread that they believe I can be trusted.” – Ewing to the Chicago Tribune in 1982

What they said about him: “He put his own personal safety on the line dozens of times in his career to negotiate the peaceful surrenders of criminal suspects.” “He truly had a unique place in Chicago journalism history.” – WLS TV news anchor Alan Krashesky

“He knew Chicago from City Hall to the neighborhoods, but more important, he knew the sensibilities. “I don’t remember in 10 years working with Russ ever being challenged on any of his stories." – Former WLS news director Tom Dolan

Full obituary: Chicago Tribune

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