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Judge orders arrest of teen for murder of retired Chicago police bomb technician

Judge orders arrest of teen for murder of retired Chicago police bomb technician

Judge orders arrest of teen for murder of retired Chicago police bomb technician

The 16-year-old suspected of killing retired Chicago police officer Larry Neuman was ordered arrested Tuesday after prosecutors described a brazen daytime shooting outside Neuman’s Garfield Park home.

The teenager, Lazarious Watt, was identified in video surveillance by four witnesses who knew him from the neighborhood, authorities told a Cook County judge during a detention hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court building. Watt, a Garfield Park resident who has pending juvenile cases, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Neuman after he turned himself in.

“The defendant is a threat to the community because of his actions,” Judge Antara Rivera said when ordering Neuman’s arrest. “Everyone should feel safe at home, whether they are inside or outside, and the defendant violated that.”

Prosecutors said Neuman, 73, was outside his home last Thursday in the 4300 block of West Monroe Street preparing to pay a man he had helped mow his lawn when two armed men wearing ski masks approached him.

When Neuman reached for his own gun, one of the gunmen fired. Authorities said they are keep looking for that suspect. As the witness ran to escape, he saw Watt point his firearm at Neuman, and Neuman fired a single bullet in return, prosecutors alleged. The masked gunmen then ran down an alley.

Neuman fell to the ground after suffering multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and leg, and was pronounced dead a short time later at Stroger Hospital. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide.

Neuman served in the U.S. Marines, retired as the Police Department’s longest-serving explosives technician and spoke out against violent crime as a pastor after leaving the department, Police Superintendent Larry Snelling said.

Snelling called Neuman’s murder a “brazen, senseless act of violence” and said Neuman “would have done everything he could” to help a teenager who was at risk of being involved in violent crimes.

Police Video recovered from surveillance cameras. which showed Watt and the other suspect walking from Neuman’s house through the neighborhood. Prosecutors said the shooting itself was also captured on video from a distance, but that specific details cannot be seen.

Just before the shooting, another witness was riding a bicycle past Neuman’s house and saw two people coming out of the alley. Prosecutors said the witness identified Watt in a lineup as one of those people. Another neighbor also observed the two men running through a vacant lot, prosecutors said.

Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling announces that a teenager has been charged as an adult in the murder of retired Chicago Police Officer Larry Neuman during a news conference on June 24, 2024 at Security Headquarters Public.  (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling announces that a teenager has been charged as an adult in the murder of retired Chicago Police Officer Larry Neuman during a news conference on June 24, 2024 at Security Headquarters Public. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Prosecutors said that at the time of the shooting, Watt was under court-ordered house arrest after repeatedly violating an electronic monitoring agreement in a separate juvenile court case, facing charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He is also expected to be charged with vehicle hijacking in an incident in March, prosecutors said.

Watt’s public defender, Molly Schranz, questioned the quality of the surveillance footage and whether Watt’s identification could have been motivated by the “substantial” reward. She described Watt as an active member of the community who works part-time and attends school, and has shown he is willing to cooperate with the investigation by turning himself in.

Prosecutors said in response that there is more than enough video and eyewitness evidence to implicate Watt.

“Video captured of this defendant and the co-defendant immediately before showed both of them in the area with heavy-looking objects in their pockets,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord. “You know what those heavy-looking objects are: firearms.”