Mundelein man pleads guilty to Vernon Hills police station shooting, agrees to pen apology letter to cop who shot him
A Mundelein man who pulled a fake gun in the lobby of the Vernon Hills Police Department in April and wanted officers to kill him, pleaded guilty Monday and must write an apology to the officer who wounded him, under a plea agreement.
Howard Lazarus, 53, of the 0 to 100 block of North Bristol Court, also agreed to spend six months on periodic imprisonment and 24 months on probation as part of the agreement.
Lazarus, who admitted in court to being on doctor-prescribed mental health medication, must also undergo a mental health exam and take any medication deemed necessary while on probation.
"It appears to the court today that you are on proper medication and not a danger to the community," Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes said when accepting the plea agreement. "But, that does not excuse what you did in the slightest."
Authorities said Lazarus walked into the Vernon Hills police station on Lakeview Parkway about midnight April 3 and asked to meet with an officer regarding a traffic accident.
After a veteran officer entered the lobby to take the report, Lazarus pulled out a realistic-looking fake handgun and pointed it at the officer.
After some negotiating, authorities said, the officer was forced to open fire and discharged two rounds from his weapon.
One bullet hit Lazarus in the abdomen, while the second shattered the glass front door, authorities said.
Lazarus was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. Following a weeklong recovery, he was transferred to Lake County jail and charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer.
Authorities said they found a handwritten note was found in Lazarus' pocket after the shooting that said he was dying from cancer and "couldn't do the deed myself."
Defense attorney Keith Grant would not discuss the cancer claim, saying "It was not an issue in the case."
Grant said Lazarus was in "crisis mode" immediately following the shooting.
"But, since going on medication and through his own self-reflection, he has stabilized," Grant told Shanes.
Lazarus, who has been jailed for the past 130 days in lieu of $100,000 bail, will be transferred to periodic imprisonment from the county jail.
Prosecutors said the officer involved in the shooting approved of the plea agreement before the offer was made to Lazarus.
Had Lazarus gone to trial and been found guilty, he could have been sentenced up to three years in prison.
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