‘He’s our brother’
Clearing, Garfield Ridge mourn Officer Vásquez Lasso
By Tim Hadac
Chicago Police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso didn’t live in Clearing or Garfield Ridge—he lived east of the airport, in West Lawn—but he and his family were essentially adopted by as many as 700 men, women and children here earlier this month.
“Even though most of us never had the pleasure of meeting him, he’s our brother, in a way. He’s our guy, and his family is our family,” Garfield Ridge Civic League President Jason Huff said. “And while it was mostly people from Clearing and Garfield Ridge at the prayer service, I saw people from other [Southwest Side] neighborhoods there, too. So it shows, I think, that there are a lot of good people in this city who understand the importance of what our police do, and who are grateful for them.”
Huff was one of about 700 people who attended a March 3 candlelight prayer service at Hale Park, just two days after Officer Vásquez Lasso was shot and killed while on duty. His widow, Milena, and her family were among the mourners in attendance.
The 32-year-old officer was shot multiple times, including in the head, by a man he was chasing on foot near 53rd and Spaulding at about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 1. He was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital but was pronounced dead.
Police had been responding to a “man with a gun” call they said was domestic related.
Before falling to the ground, Officer Vásquez Lasso managed to return fire, striking the suspect–18-year-old Little Village resident Steven Montano.
Montano was taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. A judge denied bond, and Montano’s next court date is set for Wednesday, March 22 at 26th and California.
More from Hale Park
Quite a few law enforcement officers were at the prayer service and Huff said it was moving to see the emotion in their eyes.
“This has really hit them hard, of course,” he said. “It makes it that much more important that the rest of us reach out to them and show support.”
The event at Hale Park was organized by Clearing resident Jennifer New, a driving force behind the non-denominational Prayer in the Park series created a couple of years ago.
With Officer Vásquez Lasso’s widow, Milena, and family, New prayed the Survivors Prayer, in one of the most emotional moments of the night:
Good and Gracious God, we are Survivors seeking healing for our broken hearts and broken spirits.
We are Survivors seeking understanding of something that is incomprehensible.
We are Survivors seeking comfort, in an inconsolable situation.
We are Survivors seeking faith, where our faith is being challenged and tested.
We are Survivors seeking hope, where all seems hopeless.
We are Survivors seeking love, a love that has been taken from us, yet we desperately cling to it.
We are Survivors seeking peace, peace in the knowledge that our loved one is with you, and, that one day, we will find peace in our hearts.
Lord, we thank you for your love and for the bond we Survivors share. We find strength in you and in one another.
Dear Lord, travel with all of us on our journey of healing. We pray that in your power and love, and through each other, we will find all that we seek.
A day after the prayer service, New said, “It’s been incredible to see our community come together in love and support during this difficult time of mourning our fallen officer. This is exactly what we should do for one another as Christians.
“Please remember to do the same for our neighbors who may be hurting or in need. Some of our Prayer in the Park friends are going through difficult times. If you’re able, reach out and offer to drop off a meal or run an errand for someone who’s sick. Offer to pray with someone who needs comfort. Connect with each other over lunch or a walk. No matter what church we attend (or don’t attend), we are brothers and sisters in Christ.”
New credited a number others with making the event at Hale Park a success, including her mother, Tracie Ellis (known locally for hosting backyard barbecues to thank police officers), Hope Church Midway Pastor Jj Molodecki and his wife, Jennifer; Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo; local business leaders Geno Randazzo and Jose Yanez and others.
Also speaking at the event to offer words of comfort were Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Bryan Spreyne, 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares and others.
Of her husband, Milena said, “It will never be a goodbye, it will be a ‘See you soon’ to my favorite person, my best friend, my travel and adventure partner who will always be in my heart. To the best human being God could have given me. Your chivalry until the last day, your infinite love, nobility, joy will always be in my memories.
“I’m grateful for every minute that God allowed me to share with you,” she continued. “I would have wished to hug you tighter that Wednesday morning before I took off, to give you more goodbye kisses. If only I had imagined that it was the last time I would see you alive. You dedicated your life doing what you loved most, every day you went to work with a smile from ear to ear. Thank you for being the best husband, dog dad, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend. You leave a hopeless void in our hearts. Rest in peace, my sweetheart.”
College Report | SXU football falls in quarterfinals
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer For three quarters, Saint Xavier went nearly toe-to-toe with the No. 1-ranked football team in the nation. Justin Pringle had returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to bring the Cougars to within three points of Northwestern (Iowa), the top-seeded team in the NAIA playoffs and the…
Area Sports Roundup | Richards grad Sean Lewis ready to air it out in San Diego
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The rollercoaster ride continues for Sean Lewis. The Richards alum went from being the head coach at Kent State to the offensive coordinator at Colorado, one of the most talked about college football programs in the country this season because of Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders. He was…
Girls Hoops | Sandburg and Oak Lawn to host holiday tournaments
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The field has been finalized for the third Sandburg Holiday Classic, which is the only girls basketball holiday tournament in the area to feature 16 teams. The host Eagles will be joined in the event, to be held Dec. 27-29, by area teams Oak Lawn, Richards, Argo and…
Unique, cheerful, local crafts at Hale Park
Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound . I’ve never been one to decorate for Christmas, just for the sake of decorating. And I’m not a fan of many of the things we see these days. I’ll take a pass on Christmas decorations that involve images of celebrities, pro sports logos,…
Keeping fighters flying
Spread the love Garfield Ridge native Brandon Tapia recently graduated from U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training with honors – a recognition earned by only the top 10% of each class. After Air Force BMT, airmen begin technical training to learn the technical skills needed to perform in their career field specialties. The field Tapia…
Offer cash reward in Chrysler Village slaying
Spread the love. By Tim Hadac . Someone somewhere knows who shot and killed Misael Sanchez. To help bring that person forward, the Cook County Crime Stoppers group is offering a cash reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the killer’s arrest. Sanchez, 23, was shot in the 5200 block of West 64th…
Midnight Terror serves up a different kind of spirits at Christmas Fear
Spread the loveBy Bob Bong The Halloween fans at Midnight Terror in Oak Lawn have decided to extend the haunted house season into the holidays with their eighth annual Christmas Fear weekend in December. Savage Santas, eerie elves, and sinister snowmen will be running amok and showing off their own kind of Christmas spirit at…
Catholic schools dilemma
Spread the love. After loss in Springfield, advocates search for a Plan B . By Tim Hadac After a clear defeat in Springfield earlier this month, supporters of the state’s Invest in Kids scholarship program—which includes a number of Catholic school parents on the Southwest Side—are searching for a Plan B. “What we do at…
Tommy Fitz, truly a good man
Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound . The obituary said Thomas M. Fitzgerald. But to me, it was almost like it was referring to someone else, if only because I—like so many others in Clearing and Garfield Ridge–knew him as Tommy Fitz. He died suddenly, unexpectedly, on Nov. 15 at…
Dolly Parton Imagination Library officially launches statewide in Illinois
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – Illinois families with infants and toddlers now have access to free children’s books that can be sent directly to their home, regardless of their income. Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday announced the official launch of the state’s partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program founded…
What to know about Illinois’ assault weapons ban
By ANDREW ADAMS Capitol News Illinois email@example.com Gun owners face a Jan. 1 deadline to register their assault weapons with the state under Illinois’ assault weapons law. But between lawsuits and ongoing policymaking, the exact guns, accessories and ammunition covered under the Protect Illinois Communities Act remain unclear to many gun rights advocates, who point…
Capitol Cast: Filing Day for 2024 primary brings frigid temps and election themes to Springfield
Capitol News Illinois Broadcast Director Jennifer Fuller talks with Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nowicki about the 2023 petition filing deadline for Illinois’ 2024 primary election. Capitol News Illinois · Capitol Cast: Filing Day for 2024 primary brings frigid temps and election themes to Springfield
Supreme Court rules teen bicyclist is covered by father’s auto insurance policy
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that automobile insurance policies must cover people against uninsured motorists and hit-and-run accidents, even if the person covered by the policy is not in a vehicle at the time of the accident. The case involved a 14-year-old Chicago boy, Cristopher…
State high court finds medical personnel exemption to biometric information privacy law
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois email@example.com The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the state’s strongest-in-the-nation biometric information privacy law does have an exemption: health care workers who use fingerprints or similar scans to access things like medication, materials or patient health information. In a unanimous opinion, the justices ruled against a pair of…
Illinois Supreme Court: FOID records exempt from public disclosure
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people may obtain records about their own Firearm Owners Identification cards, but they may not use the state’s Freedom of Information Act to do so. In a 7-0 ruling, the court said the Illinois State Police acted properly when…
Temporary staffing agencies seek to block new state labor law
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois email@example.com SPRINGFIELD – A group of temporary staffing agencies and their trade associations are asking a federal court to block enforcement of a new state law that governs how day laborers and temp workers are managed and paid. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Chicago, challenges several changes…
Former GOP senator, third-party governor candidate to represent himself in corruption trial
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – Monday was supposed to have been the first day in the weeklong federal corruption trial of former Republican state Sen. Sam McCann, who allegedly misused more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. A pull-down projector screen in the Springfield courtroom of U.S. District Judge…
Candidates for 2024 primary brave cold for potential ballot advantage
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois email@example.com SPRINGFIELD – Monday marked the kickoff for the 2024 election cycle, with hundreds of candidates filing their petitions at the Illinois State Board of Elections. Those in line by 8 a.m. Monday at the ISBE building in Springfield will be entered into a lottery to be the first…
State high court to hear case against staffing agencies accused of suppressing wages
By HANNAH MEISEL & DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments from three staffing agencies that say their industry is exempt from state antitrust laws in a case claiming the firms conspired to hold down wages for their workers. The Chicagoland-based companies have already lost twice in…