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Chicago police officer shot to death as his car is taken in Gage Park

An off-duty Chicago police officer was shot and killed early Sunday in Gage Park on the Southwest Side in what sources described as an apparent carjacking.

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert around 2:55 a.m. and found Officer Luis Huesca with multiple gunshot wounds in the 3100 block of West 56th Street, a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Huesca, 30, was driving home from work in his police uniform when he was shot, according to Police Supt. Larry Snelling. The injured officer was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Snelling told reporters outside the hospital hours after the shooting that Huesca had been on the police force for six years and was just two days shy of his 31st birthday.

“We lost one of our own today,” Snelling said. “He was just a great officer, a great human being.”

A row of candles marks the scene where Officer Luis Huesca was shot and killed early Sunday in Gage Park.  IMG_6822.jpg

Dozens of blue, pink and orange candles form a memorial for Officer Luis Huesca, who was shot and killed early Sunday in Gage Park.

Snelling did not confirm that the shooting occurred during a carjacking, but he said Huesca’s vehicle was stolen. No arrests have been reported.

Around 30 shots were fired during the attack, and it is not known whether Huesca returned fire, according to police sources. His Toyota 4Runner was stolen and found nearby.

Huesca’s gun and badge were not found at the scene, sources said.

An officer remembers

In a letter to department members, Snelling said Huesca was assigned to the office of Area 2 Deputy Chief Senora Ben.

“There will be sadness, anger and grief as we wonder how our fellow brother’s life could be taken in this reprehensible act of violence,” Snelling told the ministry. “Our current focus is on his family and loved ones who are going through the unimaginable trauma of loss. We are also working to apprehend those responsible for this.

Sources said Huesca attended the police academy alongside police officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, who was fatally shot in the line of duty just over a year ago.

IMG_6811.jpgA large crowd gathered Sunday evening at West 56th Street and Troy Street in Gage Park to honor Officer Luis Huesca.  Huesca was a friend of officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, who was killed last year in the line of duty.

A large crowd gathered Sunday evening at West 56th Street and Troy Street in Gage Park to sing and pray in honor of Officer Luis Huesca. Huesca was a friend of officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, who was killed last year in the line of duty.

In a video commemorating Vásquez Lasso, Huesca described his friend as “the embodiment of the American dream.”

“He came to this country, looked for a way to get ahead, made a societal difference, moved away from mediocrity, did what others would not do in his lifetime and truly succeeded in this country.” , Huesca said in the video posted on the police YouTube channel.

“Whether it was at work or outside of work, he could take the time to help others,” Huesca added. “And he’s one of those guys who really deserves this star. He is very proud to wear this star,” he said, referring to the badge.

A resident who lives a few blocks from the scene heard police sirens blaring, but didn’t pay much attention. He says the neighborhood is generally “pretty quiet.”

“It’s sad that someone lost their life for nothing,” the resident who has lived in the area for more than a decade said in Spanish.

On Sunday evening, community members gathered at the scene of the shooting to pray and sing songs in Spanish. They placed lit candles near Huesca’s house.

Alejandro Mora looked up in tears before placing a bouquet of red roses on the floor near the candles.

Mora said Huesca’s death hits close to home because his cousin is an Illinois state trooper.

“That could be my cousin right there,” Mora, 22, told the Sun-Times, pointing to the roses. “It’s heartbreaking.

“I woke up this morning with a heavy heart,” said Mora, who lives near where Huesca was killed. “It shouldn’t have to come to this.”

Mora says the city needs “a little more love, compassion and understanding.”

“There’s a mother there and her screams and her cries are reaching to the heavens right now, and she’s saying, ‘God, why not me?'”

Reactions from the mayor and the police

In a videotaped statement, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said Huesca was targeted because of his vehicle and killed because he was a police officer.

“They had to execute him because he was a Chicago police officer and they didn’t want to get caught,” Catanzara said in a YouTube video. “If they do this to a Chicago police officer, what chance does the average citizen have in one of these situations? Because that’s not the case.

Catanzara insisted that “law enforcement in this state and across the country is under more attack than ever.”

He noted that at least three people convicted of killing Chicago police officers have been released on parole in the past two years “because of the policies of politicians and judges.”

In a statement, Mayor Brandon Johnson described the shooting as “an unconscionable act of gun violence in our city.”

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

The mayor pledged to deploy “all available resources to apprehend anyone involved in this morning’s shooting and bring them to justice.”

In May 2023, Officer Aréanah Preston was shot and killed as she returned home to Avalon Park from her shift.

Contributor: Anthony Vazquez

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