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Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca shot, killed while off duty and returning home from shift

Chicago Police Department mourning death of off-duty officer
Chicago Police Department mourning death of off-duty officer 01:58

CHICAGO (CBS) — An off-duty Chicago police officer was shot and killed after returning home from work in the Gage Park neighborhood early Sunday morning.

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert in the 5500 block of South Kedzie Avenue just before 3 a.m. After touring the area, officers drove to the 3100 block of West 56th Street, where the off-duty officer was found outside with gunshot wounds, police said.

A dispatcher called out to units in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District citywide that an officer had been shot. It is, of course, a call no officer wants to hear.

"Another sad day in Chicago. Another sad day for the Chicago Police Department," said Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling. "We lost one of our own today."

Snelling said the 30-year-old officer was returning home from his shift when he was shot multiple times. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he died.

"Today, that officer was a victim of the type of crime he was working against to keep people safe in this city," Snelling said. 

Mayor Brandon Johnson, in a statement, identified the fallen officer as Luis M. Huesca of the 5th District/Priority Response Team.

Chicago Police officer killed in shooting on city's Southwest Side 03:08

The officer was a six-year member of the department and would have turned 31 in two days.

"I met with Officer Huesca's mother and uncle this morning and assured them that they have the full support of my administration as they deal with this unspeakable loss. Our city is grieving, and our condolences go out to their entire family as well as Luis' fellow officers and community," Johnson said in the statement. 

The mayor's statement continued: "My Office of Community Safety, in collaboration with Supt. Larry Snelling and the Chicago Police Department, is committed to putting every resource available toward apprehending anyone involved in this morning's shooting and bringing them to justice. As the investigation continues, we will provide immediate updates as they become available."

A procession transported Huesca's remains from the hospital to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Supt. Snelling said the officer was wearing his uniform at the time of the shooting. The officer's vehicle was taken but has since been recovered. Snelling could not confirm whether the incident was the result of a carjacking.

"Working very hard out there to keep communities and keep people safe, and today, that officer was victim of the type of crime he was working against," Snelling said.

Off-duty CPD officer shot, killed in Gage Park 06:09

Late Sunday, investigators continued their search for the suspect, looking for clues that could give them a lead on a motive for the shooting.

"How can this person have this courage to take the life of a person who give us an opportunity to be safe?" said Gage Park resident Isabel Cisneros.

Officer Huerta is survived by his mother and his uncle. CBS 2 briefly spoke to Huesca's family members. They were too devastated to say anything on camera, but their hearts are broken as they deal with the unspeakable loss.

Huesca was just two days shy of his 31st birthday, family members said.

Crowds gather to honor fallen Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca 03:01

On Sunday night, heartache and grief emanated from the pews of St. Simon Chapel of St. Gall Parish, 5157 S. California Ave., as the community grapples with the loss of one of their own. Officers from across the city converged on the Gage Park church, steps away from the scene where their brother-in-blue lost his life hours earlier.

With hearts heavy, the congregation reflected and put their faith In God as they searched for answers. Officer Huesca's mother, flanked by relatives and loved ones, led a procession to the scene.

There, officers paid tribute to their fallen colleague with candles and prayers.

Just a year ago, Huesca eulogized one of his best friends – a fellow Chicago Police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

It was just last year when Officer Huesca appeared in a tribute video for his good friend and colleague, Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call on Spaulding Avenue near 53rd Street March 1, 2023.

Officer Aréanah Preston was also shot and killed in the 8100 block of South Blackstone Avenue last year in a similar fashion to Huesca. She was getting off her shift and returning to her home in the Avalon Park neighborhood at the time.

Preston, like Huesca, worked in the Calumet District.

"It's a very dangerous time," former first deputy CPD superintendent says

Anthony Riccio, former first deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and now director of public safety at Monterey Security, said he does not believe police officers are specifically being targeted for crimes.

"It's a very dangerous time. Violent crime is high throughout the city. Carjackings, of course, we've seen – and we believe this is probably the motive for this officer's death," he said. "I don't think that there's a sense of a targeting, because the fact is most of these officers – whether they're off duty, returning from work – are armed, and I think that the offenders that are preying on people; that are doing these conflicts, would just as soon avoid that sort of a conflict."

The violent death of an officer invariably has a tremendous effect on the whole department, Riccio added.

"The department kind of grinds to a halt. Operations as we know them; business as usual is not business as usual," he said. "We go into this mourning period. There's a lot of frustration. There's a lot of sadness."

Meanwhile, some in the Chicago City Council are using the case to make the point that Chicago should not end its contract with ShotSpotter – as the mayor plans to do later this year.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said ShotSpotter alerted the CPD to the shooting five minutes before any 911 calls came in.

As the case moves forward, the CPD is getting help from the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in investigating.

Late Sunday, there was still no word from the CPD on whether the shooter or shooters had been caught.

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