By Jake Sheridan, Madeline Buckley and Adriana Pérez
Source Chicago Tribune
Crowds of police officers, officials, family and friends gathered Thursday morning at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel to mourn Chicago Police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, who was shot and killed on March 1 while responding to a domestic 911 call.
Thousands of Chicago police officers and other first-responders were outside the church, many donning the dark blue jacket and white gloves of their formal uniform as they stood in ranks.
Scores of police cars lined South Western Avenue, where Vásquez Lasso’s casket was set to pass under an American flag held up by two outstretched fire truck ladders before proceeding into the chapel.
Police officers filled the pews at the Southwest Side church for the Mass presided in English and Spanish by Chicago police chaplain Fr. Dan Brandt and Fr. Andrés Beltrán, family friend. Among other attendees were Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas and a number of aldermen.
Vásquez Lasso’s friends and family awaited his body’s arrival outside the doors of the tan church as more loved ones exited from black hearses marked with Chicago’s four-star flag. A line of bagpipers and percussionists marched. A police leader called officers to attention.
Eight officers lifted Vásquez Lasso’s light wooden casket, draped in the city’s white, red and light blue flag, from the hearse and carried it into the church, passing the saluting rank-and-file and the black-clad mourners.
During the homily, Beltrán addressed the mourners in Spanish, telling them the officer came to the United States with hopes and dreams of serving many people and doing good.
“(Vásquez Lasso) gave up his life serving what he loved most: the police,” he said. “And he leaves us, and we say goodbye to him, not only as a Colombian, but as a friend, as a colleague, as a family man.”
Beltrán asked why Vásquez Lasso’s alleged assailant had a gun.
“What is a young 18-year-old man doing with weapons in his hands? What is a young 18-year-old man doing, threatening his loved ones?” he asked.
The priest beckoned Vásquez Lasso’s family closer to the coffin, asking them to place their hands on it, and prayed with them. In between sobs, Milena Estepa de Vásquez, the officer’s widow, quietly thanked God for the years they were gifted alongside her husband. The crowd then erupted in applause after a short song in Spanish.
Steven Montano, 18, is facing charges of first-degree murder, along with two gun-related felonies and misdemeanor counts of interfering with a report of domestic violence and assault after Cook County prosecutors alleged he shot and killed Vásquez Lasso after a chase near his Gage Park home.
Vásquez Lasso was among officers who responded to the 5200 block of South Spaulding Avenue after a fight between Montano and his girlfriend spilled outside.
Montano threatened to get his gun while arguing with his girlfriend, grabbed her phone to stop her from calling 911 and charged at her, prosecutors have alleged. Montano ran away when police arrived, and shot Vásquez Lasso near a playground where children took cover under a slide, according to prosecutors.
Vásquez Lasso shot and injured Montano.
Vásquez Lasso was the first Chicago Police Department member shot and killed in the line of duty since Ella French was killed during a traffic stop in August 2021.
His widow remembered him in a Facebook post, writing in Spanish that his death “leaves us with an irreparable hole in our hearts.”
“You dedicated your life doing what you loved, each day going to your job with a smile from ear to ear. Thank you for being the best spouse, dog dad, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend,” Estepa de Vásquez wrote.
Hundreds of people also paid respects to the officer at a visitation Wednesday, including dozens of police officers and other first-responders in dress uniforms.
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