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An honor guard carries a casket

The honor guard carries out the casket of Officer Luis Huesca during his funeral at St. Rita Cascia Shrine Chapel in Ashburn, Monday, April 29, 2024. Officer Luis Huesca was shot and killed during a carjacking outside his home in Gage Park.

Anthony Vazquez

Slain Officer Huesca celebrated for his courage and character: 'Luis, your nickname should be Lionheart’

Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca was remembered Monday as a “pillar of strength and a beacon of kindness” as hundreds gathered to mourn and try to focus on the brief, but full, life he lived, rather than the senseless way he died.

“It feels like a nightmare,” Officer Christian Calderon said at the funeral service for his partner and best friend. “As we bid farewell to a man of honor let us carry his legacy forward with every step we take. Let his bravery inspire us, his kindness humble us and his memory guide us.”

Huesca was killed just over a week ago while driving home from work on the Southwest Side. He was still in uniform when he was shot multiple times.

Family members lined the entrance to St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel on Monday as Huesca’s casket was carried in, draped in a Chicago flag.

Bagpipes droned as officers from law enforcement agencies across the area stood at attention on the lawn.



Edith Huesca, mother of Luis Huesca, holds onto a Chicago flag

Edith Huesca, mother of Luis Huesca, holds onto a Chicago flag during her son’s funeral outside of St. Rita Cascia Shrine Chapel.

Anthony Vazquez

In his eulogy, Emiliano Huesca Jr. said although he was older, he always went to his younger brother for advice. He remembered his brother Monday as a man wise beyond his years, with an unbridled curiosity, who took pride in caring for others.

The brothers were “travel buddies,” with Luis Huesca always pushing them to explore new places.

Emiliano Huesca Jr. remembered a trip the pair took to North Africa. While driving in Morocco, the brothers witnessed a traffic accident right in front of them. Officer Luis Huesca immediately jumped out to help.

Emiliano Huesca Jr. said his brother exchanged information with local officers, then ran to assist a woman who had fallen from her motorcycle, waiting with her until an ambulance arrived, then helping to direct traffic around the scene.

“Even though he was not in Chicago, he was still doing his duty as a police officer,” his older brother said. “I was nervous the whole time, but I was just so proud. … I was so proud he was my brother.”

“Luis, your nickname should be Lionheart,” Emiliano Huesca Jr. said, reading from a note he wrote to his brother. “You were an exceptional person with courage, bravery, humility and pride in your work. You had dedication for those you touched. Rest in peace my brother.”



A pin in remembrance of Officer Luis Huesca during the funeral for the slain police officer.

A pin in remembrance of Officer Luis Huesca during the funeral for the slain police officer.

Anthony Vazquez

Officer Huesca’s brother in blue put it simply: “I want to say to the family and friends that love him, he was a pillar of strength and beacon of kindness,” Calderon said.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and a few Chicago City Council members attended Monday’s service but notably absent was Mayor Brandon Johnson and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, after both were told the family did not want them there.

Pritzker told reporters at an unrelated event that in such situations he tries to “follow the request of the family to do whatever makes them most comfortable.” Johnson issued a statement sending “deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Officer Luis Huesca as they heal from the loss of their beloved son, nephew, brother and friend.”

“My heart is with the Huesca family today,” the mayor said.

During Monday’s service, Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling asked mourners not to allow anything to interfere with the day’s celebration of the slain officer.

“This day is for Officer Luis Huesca. This is his day, nothing else,” Snelling said, speaking from the pulpit. “This is a day to celebrate the great contributions that this officer has provided this city. The protection of others is what he wanted every single day.”



CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling speaks to reporters

CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling speaks to reporters during the funeral for Officer Luis Huesca outside of St. Rita Cascia Shrine Chapel.

Anthony Vazquez

When asked after the funeral about the mayor and governor being asked not to attend, Snelling told reporters he was “not going to get into politics.”

“I am not going to take away from the real focus here, the real focus is that of Officer Luis Huesca and his family,” Snelling told reporters. “Everything else is a distraction to me at that point.

“This is his day,” Snelling added. “And what I don’t want is for people to forget about him and the story of what he has done and what he has provided for this city. That gets lost in the politics.”

Officer Huesca joined the Chicago Police Department in 2019, graduating from the academy alongside Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, who was fatally shot in the line of duty just over a year ago.

Officer Lucia Chavez met both Huesca and Lasso at the academy, and the three formed a quick bond.

“I lost Andres first and now Luis,” Chavez said during the service Monday, fighting through tears. “I lost my two classmates, my best friends, my brothers. The violence in this city took them away from me, from us.”

Officer Huesca was attacked in the early morning hours of April 20 while driving home from work in the 3100 block of West 56th Street. His SUV was stolen and later recovered nearby, according to sources. His gun and badge weren’t found at the scene.



Hearse carrying the remains of Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca drives northbound on DuSable Lake Shore Drive

Flanked by Chicago Police motorcycles, the hearse carrying the remains of Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca drives northbound on DuSable Lake Shore Drive near Lincoln Park Zoo to Rosehill Cemetery.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

On Friday, an arrest warrant was issued for Xavier Tate Jr., 22, of Aurora, who is charged with murder in the attack.

On Monday, Snelling said there have been some “major breaks” in the case and Officer Huesca’s missing weapon has been recovered.

“We will get justice for this family,” Snelling said. “Just like we want justice for every single family in this city who have been victimized by similar or the same type of crime.”

A reward of $100,000 is being offered for information leading to Tate’s arrest, with the money being provided by a Crime Stoppers; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI; the Fraternal Order of Police; and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. Anonymous tips can be submitted at cpdtip.com or (800) 535-7867.

Addressing the mourners Monday, Karim Ismat, Officer Huesca’s close friend from college, said he is “impatiently waiting for justice” and will not feel any sense of closure until then.

“He was the rare type of person who ensured everyone felt safe and supported before worrying about himself,” Ismat said. “In the past week, in the anger at the rare injustice committed against my friend, I find myself irrationally thinking that maybe if he was just a little bit selfish perhaps he would still be here today.

“But the sobering reality is that any of us could’ve been a victim of this horrific crime.”

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