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Man shot at Vernon Hills police station wanted to die, official says

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Updated: May 5, 2013 2:43PM

A man shot by a Vernon Hills cop early Wednesday after he allegedly pulled a replica gun at the north suburb’s police station appears to have been trying to force a police officer to kill him, an official said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said Howard R. Lazarus, 53, of Mundelein, had a note in his pocket that said in part, “I apologize for placing your officers in this position. I am dying from cancer and couldn’t do the deed myself.”

Lazarus has been charged with aggravated assault, Nerheim said, after what officials said was Vernon Hills’ first police-involved shooting.

Just after midnight, authorities said, Lazarus entered the Vernon Hills police station, 740 Lakeview Parkway, and told police he wanted to report an auto accident.

An officer was called to the station, and Nerheim said it was determined that the purported accident being reported by Lazarus happened in Mundelein. The officer offered to give Lazarus a ride to the Mundelein Police Department, Nerheim said, because Lazarus said his car had been damaged in the accident.

That’s when authorities said the man pulled a 9mm semiautomatic replica handgun with a working slide out of his coat pocket and pointed it at the officer.

The officer drew his own gun and told Lazarus to drop his, Nerheim said, but Lazarus allegedly pulled back on the slide and took several steps toward the officer.

In the exchange, Lazarus asked the officer to shoot him, but the officer refused and instead tried to talk to him while attempting to shield himself behind a wall, Vernon Hills Officer Sharon Joseph said.

Lazarus then made a couple of aggressive gestures, and the officer shot twice from a distance of 8 to 10 feet, striking Lazarus once in the abdomen, Joseph said.

Lazarus was taken to an area hospital, where he was in fair condition, authorities said.

Joseph said no one else was in the lobby when the shooting happened. Dispatchers at the station are behind bullet-resistant glass, but Joseph couldn’t say whether any saw what happened.

The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave, according to department policy, while it’s being investigated by the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

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