The Rev. Edward Cronin said he had counseled Javier and Veronica Acevedo to endure with prayer the “violence of the world” that confronted them every day in their law-enforcement careers.
Javier Acevedo served 25 years as a Cook County Sheriff’s correctional officer, and Veronica Acevedo served 18 years with the Chicago Police Department, authorities said.
But early Sunday morning, the couple were found dead in their Garfield Ridge home on the Southwest Side in what police said appeared to be a murder-suicide. The correctional officer apparently shot his wife before shooting himself, Cook County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cara Smith said.
Neighbors awoke to the sight of police cars and crime-scene tape on a block dressed up for Easter with purple ribbons tied to trees.
Worshippers at Cronin’s St. Jane De Chantal Parish at 53rd and Austin, half a block north of the couple’s home, passed near the scene while hymns hovered in the air and church bells pealed.
Cronin said he got to know the Acevedos during the last couple of years as they attended the church. He also said he offered prayer counseling. Like most police officers, he said, the couple struggled with the violence they faced at work.
“The violence is evil,” Cronin said. “And they need protection against the evil that they’re up against every day. And then here’s a horrible, evil act that happens within their own home.”
A relative inside the home heard gunshots and called 911 just after 5 a.m., Smith said. The Acevedos were found unresponsive in their bedroom a short time later, police said.
Mourning family members declined to comment Sunday. Cronin said a teenage daughter is “terribly distraught.” Late in the morning, someone could be seen collecting pet supplies from the home before being driven away, but she did not speak to reporters.
“Officer Veronica Rizzo-Acevedo’s death earlier today in a domestic murder-suicide is an awful tragedy for her family, her friends, her colleagues in the Chicago Police Department, and the people of this city, whom she served admirably for nearly two decades,” Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
The Chicago Police Department said Veronica Acevedo won 23 “department awards” during her tenure there.
Javier Acevedo, meanwhile, had been working in Division 8 of the county jail, Smith said. She acknowledged that he had been under investigation earlier this year for an off-duty road-rage incident in Berwyn. She didn’t know the status of that investigation.
Smith called the Acevedos’ deaths “a tremendous tragedy any day — particularly on Easter Sunday.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” she said.
Cronin, though, looked to the holiday for comfort in the wake of the Acevedos’ deaths.
“Thank God we have this feast that conquers even that senseless violence,” Cronin said. “Only Easter can conquer that.”