Vernon Hills police station shooting involves officer, man who allegedly pointed gun

Howard R. Lazarus

April 3, 2013 2:56:25 PM PDT
A police officer shot a man inside the Vernon Hills police station Wednesday after the man allegedly pulled out a BB gun in the building's lobby.

It started shortly after midnight when a man with a fake gun walked into the Vernon Hills police station.

Police say 53-year-old Howard Lazarus was about 8-10 feet away from a police officer when he pulled out what looked to be a real gun. That officer then fired after trying to get Lazarus to stand down.

Lazarus is charged with felony aggravated assault. He will be taken into police custody once he is released from the hospital.

The front door of the Vernon Hills Police Department is now a pile of shattered glass, evidence of a police-involved shooting in the lobby of the building.

Police say Lazarus walked in, pulled out what looked like a 9 mm handgun, pointed it an officer, and refused orders to drop it.

"The gentleman was asking to be shot by the officer and then made moves to shoot the officer," said the Vernon Hills Police Department's Sharon Joseph.

Police say Lazarus, a Mundelein resident, went to the Vernon Hills station, and said he had been in a car accident and wanted to file a report. After an officer walked in to the lobby to talk to him, police say Lazarus pulled out the gun.

The officer fired two shots. One hit Lazarus in the abdomen, the other went through the front door.

Police say the gun Lazarus had was a realistic-looking fake, and that there does seem to be a motive for the incident.

"He did have a hand-written note that was found in his pocket stating that he was dying of cancer, and he couldn't do the deed himself, and he did apologize," Joseph said.

Lazarus was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Lazarus's neighbors are trying to make sense of what happened.

"It seems like he wasn't out to harm anybody else," said neighbor Megan Udvanc. "He probably is affecting the life of the police officer, if he shot him, but at least he didn't take anybody else's life, which we see very often these days."

The officer has been with the department 14 years. He is on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

The Vernon Hills Police Department says the officer responded according to training.

"He had every right to outright shoot the subject," Joseph said. "But he tried to negotiate with him first, and that failed."

Police say Lazarus chose the Vernon Hills Police Department simply because he knew where it was.

This is the first officer-involved shooting in the history of the Vernon Hills Police Department.