Slain Chicago police Officer Luis Huesca mourned at visitation: ‘An attack on the entire community’

Rays of sunlight filtered through the clouds Sunday evening as firefighters​ and police officers filed into the Blake-Lamb Funeral Home in Oak Lawn. Inside, they joined family and friends grieving Chicago police Officer Luis Huesca.​

As cars drove down the busy street, they slowed ​when passing a U.S. flag fluttering from a firetruck ladder. Drivers and passengers rolled their windows down to look at a sign ​bearing a photo of a smiling Huesca, his name, badge number and last watch: April 21, 2024.

Huesca, 30, was shot and fatally wounded driving home from work in Gage Park while in uniform. Late Friday night, the Chicago Police Department announced a suspect in the case, and a judge signed off on a warrant for the arrest of Xavier Tate Jr.

Huesca’s family spoke Saturday in a video conversation with Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police.

“April 23 was his birthday, and it was so hard for me,” Edith Huesca said in the video. “For me as a mother, I’m asking for justice. It won’t give us a lot, but it’ll just give us a little relief in our pain.”

Throughout the day, ​hundreds of mourners pa​id their respects at a visitation for the fallen officer. As people streamed into the building early Sunday afternoon, two police officers sat outside the doors on police horses.

Bernice Granado said she was a police officer in Chicago for 10 years and came to Huesca’s visitation Sunday to support his family. “It hurts right here,” Granado said, gesturing to her heart. “I never knew him, but he still feels like family. It hurts.”

Gene Roy, ​a former ​police chief of detectives​ who was with the department for 35 years, said he’s tired of going to funerals and visitations​ and hopes this is the last visitation he’ll have to attend.

“Our hearts go out today to the family, the friends, the coworkers, and ultimately, the entire city,” Roy said. “Because when an officer falls in the line of duty, is murdered senselessly, it’s not just an attack on the officer, but an attack on the entire community we live in.”

Maria Okninski, a medical professional and a Chicago-area resident, also attended Sunday’s services. She said she came because she thinks support for police officers has fallen.

According to Tribune reports, Huesca is the third Chicago police officer to be shot — and the first fatally — this year, a figure Okninski said is “unacceptable and tragic.”

Both Huesca and Officer Aréanah Preston, who was shot and killed as she returned from a late-night shift last May, served in the Calumet (5th) District. Just over a year ago, Huesca eulogized his friend Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso in a video after Vásquez Lasso was killed in the line of duty.

“This is becoming too frequent, and it’s upsetting,” Okninski said. “The lack of respect nowadays for police officers is just horrible. I just feel so sorry for all the officers for what they’re going through.”

Dan Beazley, a Detroit native, walked up and down the line outside the visitation holding a 10-foot cross. Beazley said he was there hoping to help the family start the healing process.

“These officers put their life on the line every day. I would travel across the country to just about anywhere to support them,” Beazley said. “I hope seeing this cross helps them heal.”

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides support to the families of officers killed or gravely injured while on duty.

Sandra Wortham, the president of the foundation’s executive board, lost her brother, Thomas Wortham, in 2010. She said showing up for events like these can be painful, but she wants people to remember that officers are part of the community​, too.

“The way we’ve lost officers in the past couple of years to me shows us that despite what some people try to say, our officers are part of our community,” Wortham said. “They are falling victim to the same violence that our communities are.”

Thomas Wortham died in front of his home after three people tried to steal his motorcycle. Huesca died close to his home, and his car was missing when police arrived.

Funeral services for Huesca are set to take place at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood.