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Illinois Officers Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

A Cook County sheriff's office correctional officer apparently shot to death his wife, a Chicago police officer, inside their Southwest Side home Sunday morning before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

Javier Acevedo and his wife, Veronica Rizzo-Acevedo, were found dead about 5 a.m. inside their home in the 5300 block of South Austin Avenue, according to Cook County sheriff's office spokeswoman Cara Smith. Chicago police said the deaths are being investigated as aa apparent murder-suicide but released no other information as of Sunday evening.

"It is a tremendous tragedy any day, particularly for Easter Sunday," Smith said.

Smith said the two, both 50 years old, were found inside a bedroom.

Rizzo-Acevedo's adult daughter heard the gunfire in the Garfield Ridge home and called 911, according a law enforcement source.

Smith said Javier Acevedo was a 25-year veteran and worked at the county jail.

Rizzo-Acevedo had served as a Chicago police officer for nearly two decades, Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement Sunday.

"Officer Veronica Rizzo-Acevedo's death earlier today in a domestic murder-suicide is an awful tragedy for her family, her friends, her colleagues in the Chicago Police Department, and the people of this city," he said.

A fire department responder discovered a gun lying under Javier Acevedo's body, and the two were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the law enforcement source.

Police could be seen saluting as one of the victim's bodies was removed from the home around 9 a.m.

Rizzo-Acevedo had worked for the department for 18 years and had worked in the Shakespeare police district, which covers the Logan Square, Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods, according to law enforcement sources.

"I've had people calling all morning saying, 'Oh my God. What happened?'" said Lt. Michael Mulkerin, Rizzo-Acevedo's former supervisor. "She was well liked."

Chicago Police Chaplain Dan Brandt, who noted he wasn't familiar with the specifics of the case, said being in law enforcement brings a lot of unique stressors and exposure to the "worst of humanity."

"We're accustomed to losing our (fellow officers) to violence on the streets," he said, "but when it's something like this ... it's doubly hard to accept."

Edward Cronin, a priest at St. Jane de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, said the couple regularly attended services at the church, about a half-block north of their home.

Cronin said he's known them for a couple of years, though they've been members of the church for some time.

"They were very committed, dedicated people ... struggling to understand the mission of their work and trying to cope with the violence," Cronin said. "They were both good people and both trying hard to be good Christian, Catholic people."

The couple's neighbors and parishioners at St. Jane's were shocked to hear about the deaths Sunday morning. Many called them both friendly people.

Janis Misovic lives around the corner from the couple's home, attends their church and said she had been meaning to grab lunch with Rizzo-Acevedo for some time.

"She wanted to make more friends, but everyone liked her," Misovic said. "Now I feel bad that I really didn't get a chance to go out with her."

Maryiln Koperniak, another parishioner and member of St. Jane's Lady Guild, broke into tears when a fellow churchgoer confirmed her hunch, that a fellow member of that church group had died.

"I had a feeling," Koperniak said. "I didn't know her very well, but she was a very nice lady."

An elderly woman who lives across the street from the couple's residence and asked not to be named, said they were kind neighbors and seemed like "delightful people."

The woman said she was not close with them but would chat with the couple when they were outside.

"Easter Sunday morning, you wake up to this," said the woman, who also attends St. Jane's. "We've been crying all morning."

The woman said she would talk with Rizzo-Acevedo as the police officer tended flowers in the yard.

"It's sad watching those bodies being removed," the woman said. "It's awful. Not this neighborhood. Not these kind people."

Tribune reporters Manya Brachear and Jeremy Gorner and photographer Nancy Stone contributed.

Copyright 2014 - Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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