Man indicted by grand jury for shooting death of Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso
CHICAGO - The man accused of shooting and killing Chicago Police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso was indicted by a grand jury during a status hearing Wednesday.
Steven Montano, 18, allegedly shot the officer during a foot pursuit in the 5200 block of South Spaulding Avenue on March 1.
He was denied bond just days after the shooting by a Cook County judge.
Montano has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated discharge of a firearm and two other misdemeanors.
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Officer Vasquez Lasso, 32, was shot several times, police said. He was taken in "extremely critical condition" to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he died and where a large group of officers somberly gathered through the night before his body was taken by procession to the Cook County morgue on the West Side.
Despite his wounds, Vasquez Lasso was able to return fire and shot Montano in the head, according to police. Montano was transported to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.
Officers were called to the area for a domestic incident between Montano and a 37-year-old woman he was dating, according to prosecutors.
Wednesday's status hearing was the first time Montano has appeared in court in person since he was hospitalized with injuries from the shooting.
Prosecutors repeated the bond hearing since Montano was not physically present for the first one on March 3.
Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler described Montano as a former honors student who dropped out of his selective enrollment high school during senior year amid the pandemic. Since then, she said, he had been working at a downtown Chick-fil-A restaurant as a cook.
She described Montano as a talented long-distance runner who was a former youth mentor at a community center in Lawndale, where he helped kids deal with their aggression through running, Koehler said.
"This is an incredibly tragic case," Koehler said. "Steven didn’t intend for any of this to happen."
The attorney also contended that Montano was in the process of stopping and turning around when he was shot by Lasso.
But Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers replied hotly, "He didn’t stop to surrender." Montano had actually racked the slide on his gun before turning toward the officer. "He stopped to shoot Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso."
Judge Ankur Srivastava pointed to footage of the shooting from Lasso’s body-worn camera and multiple witnesses who identified Montano as the shooter. "You were caught on the scene red handed."
None of Montano’s previous mentoring or schooling can change what happened that day, Srivastava said. "You murdered a Chicago police officer who was trying to do his job. And you murdered him in cold blood."
Following Wednesday's indictment, Montano will be assigned a new judge in the criminal division.
Montano's next hearing is scheduled for April 5 where a judge will be selected.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.