Murder of off-duty Chicago police officer stirs memories of a similar crime last year

Luis Huesca (Chicago Police Department)

CHICAGO — Federal authorities are lending a hand as Chicago police detectives hunt down the people responsible for murdering off-duty CPD officer Luis Huesca as he arrived home from work early Sunday.

CPD Supt. Larry Snelling stopped short of saying Huesca was killed during a robbery or carjacking attempt. But he confirmed Huesca’s car, a Toyota RAV4, was missing when on-duty officers found the 30-year-old unresponsive in the 3100 block of West 56th Street shortly after 3 a.m. Investigators later found the SUV abandoned a few blocks away, near 56th Street and Mozart.

Huesca, a six-year veteran returning from work in the Calumet (5th) District, was still wearing his police uniform when he was killed. Snelling said Huesca was wearing something over his uniform shirt.

The fallen officer’s gun was missing, and, according to the Sun-Times, his police star was also gone.

On YouTube, John Catanzara, head of front-line Chicago police officers’ labor union, said Huesca died “because some piece of s**t predator decided that taking someone’s car wasn’t enough. They had to execute him because he was a Chicago police officer, and they didn’t want to get caught.”

Cook County CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrests of the people responsible for Huesca’s death. Anonymous tips can be provided at 1-800-535-STOP. You do not have to give your name.

For many people, Huesca’s murder raised memories of the slaying of Officer Areanah Preston as she returned home from work on May 6, 2023. Preston also worked in the Calumet District. Officials said she was shot and killed by armed robbers who confronted her as she walked from her car to her home. Four people, all with extensive juvenile criminal backgrounds, have been charged.

CPD first learned of both shootings via the city’s ShotSpotter gunfire detection network.

Robberies have been on the rise across Chicago for two years, but city and police leaders have failed to get a handle on the problem. The surge can largely be attributed to armed holdup crews working the streets, committing several robberies a night, only to return and do it again and again.

Robberies increased 23% citywide last year, but many neighborhoods saw much sharper increases. This year, robberies are up 1% across Chicago, yet the increase is much greater in some parts of town.

Like the Chicago Lawn (8th) District, where Huesca was killed. Robberies there are up 25% compared to last year, sitting at the highest level since 2018.

Late last month, an off-duty CPD officer was carjacked in River North. Robberies in that district are up 20% year-to-date. Two off-duty Chicago police officers were robbed in under 24 hours on December 30 and 31. Two more were robbed while walking together in Pilsen last September. Off-duty officers were also robbed in August and July.

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