Chicago police officer killed in Gage Park had spoken just last year at memorial for fellow officer

CHICAGO — When his friend and fellow Chicago police Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso was fatally shot in the line of duty last year, Luis Huesca called him “one of those guys that actually deserved this star” in a remembrance video. Huesca tapped a badge pinned to his lapel, etched with the slain officer’s number 7649: “He was very proud to wear this star.”

Just over a year since Vásquez Lasso’s killing, the Chicago Police Department is mourning Huesca’s death after he was shot and killed while heading home from his shift early Sunday morning, two days shy of his 31st birthday.

A statement from Mayor Brandon Johnson said Huesca was a member of the 5th District Priority Response Team. He was off-duty but in uniform when he was shot in the Gage Park neighborhood just before 3 a.m. Officers had responded to a “gunshot detection alert” in the 5500 block of South Kedzie Avenue and discovered Huesca with gunshot wounds in the 3100 block of West 56th Street.

Superintendent Larry Snelling said in a news conference Sunday morning that Huesca was shot multiple times before he was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center. His vehicle was stolen at the scene.

Snelling said Huesca had been with CPD for six years. A procession carried Huesca’s body to the Cook County medical examiner’s office Sunday morning.

“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,” Johnson said. “Our city is grieving, and our condolences go out to their entire family as well as Luis’ fellow officers and community.”

While cars pulled into supermarkets and strip malls on a bustling Kedzie Avenue on Sunday afternoon, red and yellow tape cordoned off several blocks of brick homes just around the corner on tree-lined 56th Street.

Police and detectives gathered at the scene, marking spots on the ground and gathering evidence in plastic bags. As neighbors streamed out of church services, groups stopped to look at the caution tape and ask what had happened.

Miguel Torres Cruz said in Spanish that he has lived in Gage Park for two years.

“I didn’t hear anything at all last night, I slept through it,” Torres Cruz said. “I go out late at night for tacos a lot, and I’m safe. There’s never anything like this here. No even robbing, no assaults, nothing.”

Maria Jose, another Gage Park resident, was waiting in line at a bank near the scene of the shooting Sunday morning when she heard the news.

“The caution tape goes down two or three blocks,” she said in Spanish. “It’s usually so tranquil around here. I feel scared.”

According to Chicago Tribune reports, Huesca is the third Chicago police officer to be shot and the first fatally this year. On Jan. 8, a veteran policeman was shot in the leg during an exchange of gunfire with a burglary suspect in the Gold Coast neighborhood. On March 21, an officer was shot by a civilian who was also critically wounded during an “investigatory stop” in Humboldt Park.

Last year, Vásquez Lasso, 32, was shot responding to a domestic incident in Gage Park in March. In May 2023, Officer Aréanah Preston, 24, who was assigned to the Calumet District station, was shot as she returned home after a night shift.

CPD said investigators are still looking for a suspect.