Chicago Police Department

Multiple people ID'd teen in shooting of retired CPD officer, 2nd attacker sought, prosecutors say

Lazarious Watt, 16, charged as an adult, was ordered held in custody Tuesday pending his trial in the fatal shooting of Larry Neuman.

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A teenage boy was “ready to shoot and kill” when he had another person approached a retired Chicago police officer last week with their guns drawn in West Garfield Park, according to Cook County prosecutors.

“That’s exactly what happened,” Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers said at 16-year-old Lazarious Watt’s initial hearing Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge.

Larry Neuman, 73, was paying a man late Thursday morning for helping him mow the lawn in front of his home in the 4300 block of West Monroe Street when he saw the two assailants putting on ski masks, prosecutors said.

As Neuman went for his own gun he was shot multiple times by one of the masked attackers, who remains at large, prosecutors said.

Neuman got off one shot of his own and Watt then allegedly also fired a shot, according to authorities who said five shell casings were found at the scene.

Neuman collapsed and was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds to his chest and leg but died a short time later.

Prosecutors did not suggest a motive for the killing.

Surveillance video captured the shooting from afar and was little help for investigators, Rodgers said, but in the 20 minutes before the shooting Watt and the other suspect were clearly recorded by multiple surveillance cameras in the area.

Images from that footage allowed at least four people who knew Watt from the neighborhood or his school to identify him, prosecutors said. Additionally, a man who was riding his bike in the area and knew Watt said he saw the teen running just after the shots were fired.

At the time of the shooting, the teen was on court-ordered home confinement after violating his electronic monitoring agreement several times in a separate case charged in juvenile court. In that case, Watt was found in possession of a gun with an extended magazine and automatic switch after crashing a stolen car, according to prosecutors, who said the office is also expected to charge him with a separate carjacking in March.

An assistant public defender for Watt focused on problems with his identification during the hearing and suggested a substantial reward worth tens of thousands of dollars could have improperly motivated people to identify Watt. She said that Watt’s decision to surrender to police after learning he was a suspect showed he was not a flight risk.

But Judge Antara Nath Rivera ordered him held in custody going forward.

In her order, the judge said she believed Watt was a danger to the community, stressing he had allegedly participated in an attack in a residential neighborhood, in “broad daylight” and in front of the victim’s home “where a person should feel safe.”

Watt is being charged as an adult under a state law that automatically transfers a minor defendant’s case to adult proceedings for the most serious offenses. He is the second teenager charged in a high-profile killing in recent days.

Neuman has been revered as a “pillar of the community,” a “family man” and a tireless advocate for people in his community, particularly young people, those who knew him have said in recent tributes.

A Vietnam veteran and the police department’s longest-serving bomb squad technician, he retired in 2010 after 28 years and dedicated himself to working as a reverend.

“Reverend Neuman called me on Wednesday night and said he wanted to do more for the youth in the community,” Paul Sims, a pastor at St. Michael Missionary Baptist Church, told the crowd at a recent vigil. “Anyone who knew Larry Neuman knew he would’ve done whatever he could for those two young men in that video.”

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