Chicago police officer shot, killed as kids played outside Gage Park school: prosecutors

Steven Montano, 18, held without bond in Chicago Police Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso's murder

Saturday, March 4, 2023
CPD officer shot, killed as kids played outside school: prosecutors
Prosecutors revealed details about Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso's murder. He was allegedly shot by Steven Montano outside Sawyer Elementary School.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A stream of uniformed Chicago police officers flooded the Cook County Courthouse Friday as a judge announced that Steven Montano, the 18-year-old accused of shooting and killing Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, would be held without bail.

Prosecutors revealed new details about the fallen officer's final moments as he served and protected his community.

"The defendant and his girlfriend began arguing about their living arrangements," Asst. Cook County State's Attorney Anne McCord said.

Prosecutors said Montano jumped out of the window of a Gage Park home he was living in on 52nd and Spaulding late Wednesday afternoon when officers arrived to the house after his girlfriend called 911 saying Montano charged at her and had a gun.

Montano then allegedly asked nearby neighbors in an alley if he could hide a gun in their garage before taking off.

"The defendant climbed onto a car in the backyard and hopped the fence," McCord said. "The defendant fled east across Spaulding Avenue, then ran north on Spaulding past Sawyer Elementary School."

A photo of fallen Chicago Police Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso is seen tied to a fence outside Sawyer Elementary School in the Gage Park neighborhood.

That's when officials said Officer Vásquez Lasso, 32, saw Montano running away and jumped out of his squad car to chase him down, ultimately onto the grounds of nearby Sawyer Elementary with children playing on the playground.

"The victim gave multiple verbal commands for the defendant to stop running," McCord said. "The defendant looked back over his shoulder in the victim's direction and immediately turned towards the victim while racking the slide on his pistol."

Prosecutors say Montano was able to get off five shots with a .45 caliber handgun, striking the officer three times, while Vásquez Lasso fired twice, critically wounding Montano.

"The victim's partner exited the squad car and approached the defendant," McCord said. "The defendant stood up, refused to comply with commands and tried to walk away from the police despite being shot in the face."

That's when prosecutors say Montano was Tased and arrested, while Vásquez Lasso was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he later died.

Prosecutors said the entire shootout was captured on Officer Vásquez Lasso's body camera.

Montano remains in critical condition at Stroger Hospital and faces first degree murder charges.

Suspect accused in officer's murder had criminal history

The suspect who shot and killed a Chicago police officer in Gage Park had been released on an I-bond for a misdemeanor charge and had no other criminal record.

Montano has a history with police and was arrested last July for allegedly running from a stolen car. He was charged with resisting or obstructing an officer. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office filed misdemeanor charges in that case, and the suspect was released on an I-bond. The charges were later dropped.

Now prosecutors are piling on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts. He is charged with one felony count of murder, one felony count of unauthorized use of a weapon, one felony count of firing a weapon near a school, one misdemeanor count of interfering with reporting domestic violence, and one misdemeanor count of simple assault.

"As we learn more facts about the case and his history from July through now, we need to see where the ball was dropped because clearly this individual is committed to being a terror in his neighborhood," Alderman Ray Lopez said. "Clearly he has no regard for human life least of all the lives of the officers trying to protect our communities."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx issued a statement about the charges in that July case, saying, "The defendant, who had no prior record, was given an I-bond after being charged on July 29, 2022, with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, after running from a vehicle that had been stopped by police."

It continued, "The defendant, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was not charged with a felony because the evidence does not support a charge of gun possession for this offender."

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability will be conducting an investigation into the police shooting. Brown said body-worn camera footage is being reviewed.

Vigils held for fallen Officer Vásquez Lasso

Community and fellow CPD and CFD members surrounded the family of fallen Officer Vasquez-Lasso at a candelight prayer vigil Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Officer Vásquez Lasso's widow attended a candlelight vigil at Hale Park Thursday night. Chicago police officers were among the large crowd.

"The Chicago Police Department lost one of our brothers, Andres," 8th District Commander Bryan Spreyne said. "Law enforcement lost one of its brothers. This family lost their brother."

"I knew more than 13 years," Joaquin Iglesias. "He is my close friend. I lost a brother as well. I'm shook."

Posters with his photo were dispersed throughout the crowd as the community vowed to never forget their protector and neighbor.

In addition to honoring Officer Vásquez Lasso and his family, organizers said this was also to show their support to the Chicago Police Department.

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Vásquez Lasso was originally from Cali, Colombia, and had been on the force for only five years. He was based out of the 8th Police District near 63rd Street and Homan Avenue, which was not just the community he served but also the community he lived in. Thursday morning, crews put up black and purple bunting over the entrance, a symbol of mourning honoring the fallen officer.

A visitation for Officer Vásquez Lasso will be held on Wednesday, March 8 at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd Street, Oak Lawn. His funeral will be held on Thursday, March 9 at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Avenue, Chicago.

Lasso's family as started a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs and provide support to his loved ones going forward.

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