Suburban police sergeant shot son in dispute over vodka: prosecutor

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A dispute over stolen vodka — replaced with water — apparently drove a suburban police sergeant to shoot and critically wound his son in his Southwest Side home, Cook County prosecutors alleged Thursday.

Judge John Lyke Jr. ordered Raymond Leuser — a 20-year veteran of the Indian Head Park Police Department — to be held without bail after he was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery/discharge of a firearm, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The victim was his 22-year-old son and the shooting occurred in Leuser’s home in the 6200 block of South Nashville.

“Based on what I heard, this court finds this defendant poses a real and present danger,” Lyke said.

Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said that on Monday, Leuser, 48, called in sick from work. Later that day, he bought a bottle of vodka and some snack food from a convenience store on West 63rd Street in the Clearing neighborhood.

Leuser’s son, who Antonietti said lives in the basement of the home, swiped three glasses’ worth of the Smirnoff vodka and replaced it with water.

About 2:30 a.m., the son heard footsteps in the kitchen. He walked upstairs and saw his father in the kitchen, facing the other way, Antonietti said.

“The defendant then turned toward the victim and made a guttural-type of yell,” she said. “The defendant then shot the victim in the stomach.”

His son tried to protect his face, but Leuser then shot him in both shoulders, Antonietti said. The son then fell down the stairs back into the basement.

Leuser — who, according to his attorney, has lived in Chicago his whole life and served four years in the Marines, including 2 ½ years in the Middle East — called 911 to report a person shot and hung up when dispatch operators started to question him. He walked out of his home with his hands up when police arrived, Antonietti said.

A Chicago Police sergeant walked in and saw several shell casings, bullet holes and blood on the floor, she said. An empty .45 caliber handgun was found on the living room sofa.

Leuser’s son remains in critical condition at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and still has two bullets lodged in his body, including one in his pelvis, according to Antonietti.

Along with being held without bond, Leuser was ordered to stay away from his son. Prosecutors also sought that the judge order Leuser to turn over his weapons, his FOID card and concealed carry license, along with his passport.

Lyke opted to not rule on that motion and let the judge at Leuser’s next hearing make the decision.

Leuser, who appeared in court in a blue and white baseball shirt with slicked back salt-and-pepper hair, previously served as chief of the Indian Park Police Department.

The Sun-Times first reported Tuesday that Leuser was a police officer.

When contacted by the newspaper, an employee with the Indian Head Park Police Department, who only gave her first name as “Linda,” said, “Our thoughts are with the family” and that the shooting is “under investigation.” She hung up when asked for specifics on Leuser employment status.

According to its website, the Indian Head Park Police Department has 26 employees, with 15 of them working part-time.

Leuser is the second-highest ranking member of the department, behind Chief Robert Cervenka.

After the hearing, Leuser’s attorney, Daniel Yukich, declined to comment.

If convicted, Leuser could be sentenced to life in prison.