As a homicide detective, Mike Ebaugh usually arrives on a crime scene well after the fact, but Saturday night, as he stepped of out the District III station in Palmer Park, his timing probably saved a life.
"I heard a wail out in the distance and it just didn't sound right," he says. "I could hear the sound of something smacking something."
Ebaugh couldn't see where the sound was coming from so he jumped in his car and drove out of police headquarters, seeing the assault in progress.
The victim was on the street on his back with his hands over his head. His attacker was slamming the shovel down on his face.
"He had it up in the air, smacked it down on his face and he was going up to do it again. That's when I jumped out of my car and gun, faced him and gave him commands to drop the shovel."
The 48-year-old suspect, David Hamilton, obeyed. Paramedics say one more blow could have killed the victim. One-half block away, April Alston's daughter saw the whole incident.
"She was just really, really terrified," says Alston.
She has no doubt the victim was about to be killed.
"It seems as though he would have if the officer didn't come and put a stop to it," she says.
Detective Ebaugh, an eight-year veteran with the department, says it's just what police do.
"I think there's a lot of unsung heroes out there and they don't get noticed. I'm glad this worked out."