Vernon Hills cops believe station shooting to be suicide attempt - FOX 32 News Chicago

Vernon Hills police believe station shooting to be suicide attempt

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Photo of the replica gun used in the Vernon Hills shooting. Photo of the replica gun used in the Vernon Hills shooting.
Howard Lazarus. Howard Lazarus.
VERNON HILLS, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The man shot by a north suburban cop early Wednesday after he allegedly pulled a replica gun at the police station appears to have been trying to force a police officer to kill him, police and prosecutors said.

Lake County State's Atty. Michael Nerheim said Howard R. Lazarus, 53, had a note in his pocket that said in part, "I apologize for placing your officers in this position. I am dying from cancer and couldn't do the deed myself."

Lazarus has been charged with aggravated assault, Nerheim said, after what officials said what Vernon Hills' first police-involved shooting.

Just after midnight, authorities said, Lazarus entered the Vernon Hills police station at 740 Lakeview Parkway and told police he wanted to report an auto accident.

An officer was called to the station, and it was determined the purported accident happened in Mundelein. The officer offered to give Lazarus a ride to the Mundelein Police Department, because Lazarus said his car had been damaged in the accident.

That's when authorities said the man pulled a 9mm semiautomatic replica handgun with a working slide out of his coat pocket and pointed it at the officer, according to police.

The officer drew his own gun and told Lazarus to drop his, Nerheim said, but Lazarus allegedly pulled back on the gun's slide and took several steps toward the officer.

In the exchange, Lazarus asked the officer to shoot him, but the officer refused and instead tried to talk to him while attempting to shield himself behind a wall, said Vernon Hills Officer Sharon Joseph.

Lazarus then made a couple of aggressive gestures, and the officer shot twice, striking Lazarus once in the abdomen, Joseph said. The two were about 8 to 10 feet apart at the time.

Lazarus, of North Bristol Court in Mundelein, was taken to an area hospital where he was in fair condition and being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

While Joseph said no one else was in the lobby when the shooting happened, dispatchers at the station are positioned behind bullet-resistant glass. She couldn't say whether any of them saw what happened.

"I'm sure some of them did," Joseph said, "but I don't know."

Lazarus has been charged with one count of aggravated assault, a Class 4 felony, police said.

As per department policy, the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation of the incident. This incident is being investigated by the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

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