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Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso

Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso

/AP Photos

Chicago police officer dies after exchanging gunfire ‘at close range’ with suspect in Gage Park

A Chicago police officer was shot and killed as he chased an armed suspect who suddenly turned and fired “at close range” Wednesday afternoon in Gage Park on the Southwest Side.

Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso, 32, was hit several times but was able to return fire, hitting the suspect in the head, Police Supt. David Brown told reporters outside Mount Sinai Hospital, where the officer was taken.

The suspect, 18, was taken in critical condition to Stroger Hospital, Brown said.

Vasquez-Lasso was among several officers who were called to the 5200 block of South Spaulding Avenue around 4:45 p.m. after a woman reported that she was being chased by a man with a gun, Brown said.

Officers in one car went to the woman’s door while officers in a second car pursued the suspect. The suspect “turned immediately and fired,” Brown said. “At close range, shots were exchanged.”

In the minutes after the shooting, a cop can be heard screaming into the police radio, “10-1, 10-1, officer down,” giving the code for an officer in need of assistance. “10-1, 10-1, officer down. ... Send an ambulance.”

officers by police lights

Officers work the scene where a Chicago police officer was fatally shot Wednesday in Gage Park. The officer was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

Brown, who just hours earlier announced his resignation from the department, was backed by two dozen or so officers as he talked to reporters. He said the slain officer had nearly five years on the force and “had a bright future in front of him.”

Vasquez-Lasso and the other officers “knew it was an offender with a gun call, they were willing to put their lives on the line.”

The officer “came from a family of public servants,” he said. “There’s some broken hearts that will take a long time to grieve.

“Policing is a big family of people who know at some point they may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, but you never wish or hope that it actually happens,” he said. “And tonight this tragedy did.”

Appearing with Brown was Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who shared Brown’s condolences for the family. “We need to lift them up in our prayers,” she said. “This is a terrible tragedy for this city.”

Brown provided little information about the wounded suspect, saying only that he had a record of just one prior arrest. He did not provide details, but records show the suspect was arrested near two handguns last summer after running from a stolen car that was wanted in a shooting. He was only charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, and that charge was later dropped.

flag hangs across a street near the Cook County morgue

A flag hangs across a street near the Cook County morgue on the West Side before the body of a slain Chicago police officer is brought there.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

The last Chicago police officer shot and killed in the line of duty was Officer Ella French on Aug. 7, 2021. French and her partner, Carlos Yanez, were shot after they and Officer Joshua Blas stopped a Honda CR-V around 63rd Street and Bell Avenue. Emonte Morgan allegedly opened fire, killing French and shooting Yanez in the head multiple times.

Officer Samuel Jimenez and Cmdr. Paul Bauer were killed in separate shootings in 2018. Jimenez was among four fatally wounded in a mass shooting at Mercy Hospital that November, while Bauer was shot and killed nine months earlier while trying to arrest a man fleeing from police near the Thompson Center.

A day after qualifying for the mayoral runoff election, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson both expressed their condolences for the family of the officer slain Wednesday.

Firefighters and police officers salute an ambulance

Firefighters and police officers salute an ambulance carrying the body of a slain Chicago police officer on arrival at the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

Vallas, whose hard line law-and-order message helped him become the race’s front-runner, said the shooting “is a tragic reminder of what our police officers do each and every day, laying their lives on the line. This violence must come to an end.

“The courageous men and women of the Chicago police department have suffered another tragic loss of one of their own to the ultimate sacrifice of protecting our communities,” Vallas said in a statement. “My heartfelt thoughts are with the officer’s loved ones and the entire CPD family who are grieving during this difficult time.

In his own statement, Johnson said, “This is a sad and sorrowful day for our city, and my heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of the Chicago police officer whose life was taken in the line of duty in Gage Park this afternoon.

“I am praying for healing for all those close as we await further details on this tragedy,” he added.

Police and firefighters salute as the body of a slain Chicago police officer arrives

Police and firefighters salute as the body of a slain Chicago police officer arrives Wednesday evening at the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

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